Major Case Unit gets to work on Hannibal death investigation

Photo released by Marion County Sheriff's Department of what the woman was wearing when she was found.
Posted: Sep. 19, 2013 3:14 pm Updated: Oct. 3, 2013 3:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

HANNIBAL, Mo. — The Marion County Sheriff's Department is getting plenty of help in its search to identify the body of a woman found Sunday in the Mississippi River near Hannibal.

Representatives from 14 different state and local law enforcement agencies gathered Thursday morning to start working on the case as part of the Northeast Missouri Major Case Squad.

"We've been hitting the ground running since 8 o'clock this morning to see if we can find any type of clues that are of evidentiary value from this point down to the south in Ralls County," Shinn said during an afternoon news conference at Nipper Park along the Mississippi River.

After initially saying they were looking for a woman between the ages of 19-22, Shinn said the woman is believed to be between 16 and 30 years old. He said the woman is 5-foot-3 and weights 135 pounds. She has dark shoulder-length hair.

Shinn also distributed a photo of items the woman was wearing when she was found. They included a pair of size 13-14 blue jeans, a pink, red and cream striped shirt and two rings. Shinn said neither one of the rings appeared to be a wedding ring.

"We're just trying to see if anyone saw someone who was wearing something like this," Shinn said.

Shinn said the woman had no tattoos or other identifying marks on her.

"She had a small scar above her left knee," Shinn said. "It looked like something she may have done as a child that she never got stitches for."

A person alerted the Sheriff's Department to the body Sunday afternoon. It was retrieved from the river about 2:30 p.m. and sent to Columbia for an autopsy Monday. The medical examiner who did the autopsy ruled the death a homicide.

Shinn said the medical examiner thought that the body had been in the water between two and five days.

Because the body had decomposed by the time it was found, Shinn said it is difficult to determine what the woman looked like. He said authorities are working on a sketch of what the woman may have looked like.

Shinn didn't believe the woman was from the immediate area.

"It's hard to tell, but I wouldn't think (she was from the area) because of the exposure we've had on the case," Shinn said. "Someone has to be missing her. We're talking (four) days now at least since we found the body."

Shinn said the Major Case Squad will continue work on the case. If anyone has information about the case, they should contact Sgt. Steve Wilhoit with the Missouri State Highway Patrol at or (660) 385-2132. Anyone with information can also call Shinn at the Marion County Sheriff's Department at (573) 769-2077.