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Image released of stabbing victim

September 01, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - West Virginia State Police on Thursday released a computer-generated rendering of a white female who they believe was stabbed multiple times at least a week before her remains were found Aug. 20 along Back Creek near the small community of Shanghai in Berkeley County.

The woman was at least 5 feet tall, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said during a press conference at the police agency's Martinsburg Detachment.

The victim had brown eyes and short, brown hair. Her left ear was pierced twice and her right ear was pierced three times, Games-Neely said. The woman's age is estimated to be between 30 years old and the late 50s, Games-Neely said. The woman's estimated weight was not available.

Investigators believe the woman's violent death likely happened seven to 30 days before her badly decomposed remains were found by two people fishing the popular stream near the intersection of Tuscarora Pike and Buck Hill Road, Games-Neely said.

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"We are running out of leads very, very quickly," said Games-Neely, before again asking the public for help in making an identification.

Games-Neely said several possible leads had not "panned out." She was unable to provide information about three missing female reports police apparently reviewed and ultimately dismissed as a possible match.

State Police 1st Sgt. L.M. Lambert said Wednesday that one of the missing females was reportedly from Morgantown, W.Va. Another missing woman from Back Creek Valley also was cleared, she said. Lambert was not immediately able to comment about the third missing female.

Games-Neely said Thursday that the unknown woman's short hair initially led police to believe the victim was a male.

Games-Neely said she received a preliminary autopsy report from the state office of the chief medical examiner in Charleston, W.Va., but she could not say when a final version would be completed.

The forensic information that has been obtained helped the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children produce a rendering that will be distributed throughout the region.

"We're looking for any leads, anywhere," Games-Neely said.

A West Virginia Division of Natural Resources official reportedly had said the body was dismembered and found in a suitcase and a garbage bag. Games-Neely again declined to confirm that report Thursday, but did say investigators were not looking for a serial killer.

Games-Neely did acknowledge that a DNR law enforcement officer was "one of the first" to respond to where the remains were found.

She declined to give a specific location of where the remains were found other than near what is known as the Tuscarora Bridge near Back Creek.

Games-Neely also did not release information about whether the woman was found clothed.

The two renderings released Thursday show the victim dressed in a black and purple top, but the clothing depicted was a liberty taken by the artist, Games-Neely said.

Investigating State Police Trooper F.H. Edwards sat next to Games-Neely throughout the press conference but did not comment. A few other state police officers, including Lambert, also attended the briefing but did not offer comment about the case.

Anyone with information about the unidentified female is encouraged to contact West Virginia State Police in Martinsburg at 304-267-0001 or 304-267-0025 or any local law enforcement agency.

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