DADE COUNTY, Ga. — It's been a mystery for decades in Dade County - who was the young woman found along the side of the road in 1988?
Investigators said it was a Friday afternoon in December of that year when two Georgia Department of Transportation workers found her body along a stretch of Interstate 59 in Rising Fawn, Georgia - just 30 miles south of Chattanooga, Tennessee and just miles away from the Alabama state line. Investigators believe she had been killed, brought to the embankment off the road, and left there for days, maybe even a week.
She appeared to be between 25 to 35 years old and stood at 5'7" tall. But they still don't know her name.
"Despite the best efforts of our agency, as well as the GBI, she has still not been identified," the Dade County Sheriff's Office said.
Further hindering their efforts, investigators said she doesn't match the description of anyone reported missing around that time.
"We have no idea where she could be from," stated special agent Joe Montgomery.
Investigators said they collected samples of the woman's DNA at the time she was found, but no matches were returning, which was not usual for the time period - one before the "scientific breakthrough" of DNA testing.
"But we've come a long way since 1989," Montgomery said, referencing advances in social media, national media and other technology.
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Over the years, officials said they had people come forward with information, but no solid leads were ever developed. That's why they're ramping up efforts once again.
"We're trying to get this (case) back into the minds of the public," investigators said during a news conference in Dade County, Monday. "We've never stopped working on this case."
Montgomery said that this case is just one of a handful of cold cases the state is working to solve - including another that just made headlines. Last week, investigators released a new rendering of another woman found in Dade County in the 1980s. She, too, was found on the side of the road and remains nameless. But, unlike the woman found in Rising Fawn, investigators believe they know the other woman's killer: self-professed serial killer, Samuel Little.
Facial reconstruction of one of Samuel Little's victims
Little, who claims to be among the most prolific serial killers in American history, was linked to her death after allegedly confessing to killing her and rolling her body down an embankment.
While the similarities in both cases are striking, investigators said they are certain that they've ruled out Little as a suspect, though they credited his case with helping to set the stage for possibly solving another.
"I think the Sam Little case has helped out with this," Montgomery admitted. "We had been looking at both cases for a while and were thinking of a way to generate more leads and public interest ... it's given us an opportunity to re-approach the public and say, '(the Little case) is not the only case we have.'"
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That's whey they're turning to the public - again - to help in trying to identify her, with the assistance of a artist's new rendering of the woman's face.
"Please share this," investigators urged, in the hopes that they can finally give the woman justice, and ultimately, her alleged killer, too.
While there are no current leads in the case, investigators are asking for anyone with tips to contact the Dade County Sheriff's Office or the GBI.
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