COLUMBUS, Ga. – A 17-year-old girl was found dead in an Atlanta street a month ago, with only the clothes on her back and scars on her legs. She didn’t have a name, a home, or identification—and so the mystery of who she was and how she got there, had begun.
But, that’s only the beginning of her story.
Denetta Franks was under the care of Cedar Tree Family and Children Services, and was being lodged in the Holiday Inn Express on Bear Lane in Columbus, Ga.
In June, Shen Kleckley, a supervisor with the child service organization, called Columbus Police to report Franks missing from the Holiday Inn Express, located at 7336 Bear Lane, where they were staying.
At approximately 9:45 p.m., on June 13, Officer Alfonza King was dispatched to the for a missing person, according to the police report.
Kleckley told King that at 9:15 p.m., Franks told her she was going downstairs to use the restroom. Kleckley was using the one inside the hotel room. When she exited the restroom, she told the officer, Franks was nowhere to be found.
The clerk at the front desk, according to Kleckley, said that Franks walked out the front door with a black female, donning blonde, brown and black braids, and wearing blue jeans, a black top and black-framed glasses. Kleckley was unable to locate the 17-year-old or the girl that left with her.
It wasn’t the first time, she told police, that Franks had vanished from the hotel. Kleckley believed that she left this time because she heard that she was being moved to another location.
A few hours later, Columbus Police officers Richard Maclaughlin and Carlos Corbett responded at 12:43 a.m., to the hotel for a sick or injured person. Upon arrival, they found an intoxicated Franks in the lobby, who told police that she had been assaulted. She was taken to the Midtown Medical Center for evaluation and released to Kleckley’s custody.
According to another Columbus Police report, she had gone missing again from the same hotel on Sept. 7.
A few weeks later, Atlanta Police found a lifeless body in the middle of Hortense Place on Sept. 21 just after 7 a.m.
The girl found dead in the Atlanta road, was wearing a black, nylon Adidas warm-up jacket, a blue- and white-striped shirt, black jeans and multi-colored socks with pink flip flops. A red scarf laid nearby her body.
“Her appearance was clean; her weight was normal. We believe that she was well-cared for wherever she was prior to this incident,” Atlanta Police Major Adam Lee III said in September.
She had been shot multiple times, at close range and police believed that she had only been dead a few hours. But, they didn’t know who she was.
It appeared, Lee said, that she "was very young" because her fingerprints were not matching any in their databases.
After releasing a facial reconstruction picture of her, police identified her a week after discovering her. She was Denetta Franks of Carrollton, Ga.
But her killer’s identity is still a mystery.
Anyone with information about Franks is asked to call Atlanta Police Homicide Unit, at (404) 546-4235 or Crime Stoppers, at (404) 577-8477