Last week we looked at the photo that law enforcement found at New Bethany and shared with a former resident. The photo is believed by an imaging expert to likely show murder victim Carol Ann Cole at New Bethany.
But this week I want to examine something else, law enforcement efforts into this case and how cold cases work in some law enforcement situations. Granted, may different departments and states may do things in a wide variety of ways. One thing is for certain, since the discovery of Carol Ann Cole’s lifeless body in rural north Louisiana investigation techniques and forensic sciences have changed greatly.
Back when this murder first happened there wasn’t much communication between police jurisdictions. Law enforcement was localized within each small area. Computers and databases were tools that only big business had access to. So without any reason to do so there wasn’t continuous contact between jurisdictions. Which is exactly how Carol Ann’s family filing a missing persons report in the Shreveport Louisiana area could have been unknown by the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s office.
We looked at in a previous chapter how facial reconstruction was a very inexact science in the early 1980s, the limitations and challenges that caused a 34 year delay in getting an accurate idea of what the victim may have looked like.
Most of the physical evidence is long gone, burned up in a fire at the facility the coroner stored evidence found with the bodies. The types of forensics that law enforcement could have run at the time would have been limited at best and largely uninformative.
One of the likely biggest factors in the early days of the investigation is the cultural tidal wave of changes in youth culture that saw increasing numbers of teenagers leave home. The 1960s and 1970s saw law enforcement dealing with an unprecedented increase in reports of runaways and missing children, many more than could be possibly investigated. Due to the lack of man power and the prevailing thought that eventually the runaways would return home.
We’ve seen how local law enforcement around New Bethany Home for Girls and other Mack Ford facility treated those picked up as runaways. They returned the children to New Bethany without reporting or investigating the many allegations of abuse.
Without much in the way of evidence or leads as time wound on without any breaks new crimes pushed the case down into the category of crimes unlikely to ever be solved. Carol Ann Cole wasn’t the only person to die in north Louisiana without leaving many clues to what happened.
In the ensuing years her family in Michigan never stopped searching or gave up hope that someone somewhere knew what had become of Carol Ann Cole. They used the emerging technology of the internet to try and find her, posting on Craigslist, and a host of other places asking for anyone who remembered Carol Ann to come forward.
At the same time the Sheriff’s Dept. of Bossier Parish decided to resurrect the Cold Case file of that unidentified girl known only as Bossier Doe.
Usually cold cases being reopened is a process that occurs only after there’s some reason to think that new evidence has emerged. It’s a process that involves getting those up the chain of command to sign off on reopening the case and getting the district attorney’s office to give their approval as well.
However it happened in Bossier Parish it was likely that law enforcement decided to take another look at the case because of the fact that Bossier Doe’s identity had never been resolved. Investigator Shannon Mack used social media in order to gather leads to the identity of this lone girl, setting up a Facebook account, and it worked. Bossier Doe was identified using DNA analysis to confirm that the long missing Carol Ann was Bossier Doe.
Even before the positive identification of Bossier Doe being Carol Ann Cole some law enforcement officials from the department went on record to say that the only possible links between her and New Bethany Home for Girls was the writing on the shoes and the buffalo nickel belt buckle.
At the same time that Bossier Parish was putting a name with a nameless girl from 34 years ago there were survivors of nearby New Bethany Home for Girls trying to get law enforcement to investigate the abuses at the closed New Bethany facility. Next week we’re going to take a look into what happened at New Bethany and the cult of Mack Ford.
If anyone has any information on the murder of Carol Ann Cole or knows how Carol Ann got to Louisiana from Texas please contact the Bossier Parish Sheriffs Dept at 318.965.2203 Please give Carol Ann Cole’s family the peace that comes with closure. This is still an unsolved open case being investigated.
Suzanne Titkemeyer is the admin at No Longer Quivering. She’s been out of the Quiverfull Evangelical world for nine years now and lives in the beautiful Piedmont section of Virginia with her retired husband and assorted creatures. She blogs at Every Breaking Wave and True Love Doesn’t Rape. She can be reached at SuzanneNLQ@
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