2012 Opelika Jane Doe identified; father, step-mother arrested
OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - New details have been released in an over-decade long investigation on an unidentified Jane Doe in Opelika.
In an emotional press conference by the Opelika Police Department on January 19, 2023, the identity of the child, as well as her family, have been released. Officials say Jane Doe has been identified as Amore Jovaeh Wiggins.
The full press conference is below:
It’s been nearly 11 years since the unidentified body of a young girl was found in Opelika and since then she’s become known as the Opelika Jane Doe. Throughout the years, police have released more information on the identification of young Jane Doe found dead in 2012. Now, police have an identification of Amore and her parents.
On January 28, 2012, Opelika police responded to Brookhaven Trailer Park, located at 1775 Hurst Street in Opelika, in reference to skeletal remains being found. A skull was located in the yard of a residence while the majority of the bones were located only a few feet into the wood line behind a trailer and the adjacent lot. During the search of the area, a pink child’s shirt and a small bundle of curly hair were also recovered.
Opelika officials told the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) their investigation has recently led them to Virginia and North Carolina, two areas where the little girl may have lived.
Officials say the remains were sent to the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Va., where a medical examination was performed. The report stated that the remains were of a black female likely between 4-7 years of age who became known to the community as ‘Baby Jane Doe’.
Authorities say an autopsy was performed and notated fractures to her skull, arms, legs, shoulders, and ribs; totaling more than 15 individual fractures that were attributed to blunt force trauma. These injuries all had evidence of healing and occurred sometime prior to her death. Authorities also said her left eye was scarred, leaving her blind in that eye, most likely from the abuse she endured prior to her murder.
Officials say through the advancements of DNA testing, Othram Labs successfully extracted DNA from the scalp and Astrea Labs from the hair. A comprehensive genealogical profile was built from Othram’s DNA extract and the profile was uploaded to a DNA database.
An experienced genealogist identified relatives and developed investigative leads.
In October of 2022, Jane Doe’s father was identified as 50-year-old Lamar Vickerstaff Jr. Vickerstaff was born and raised in Opelika, before enlisting in the U.S. Navy. During his lengthy Navy career, he resided in Norfolk, Va., Honolulu, Hawaii and Jacksonville, Fla.
In December of 2022, Opelika Detectives traveled to the Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Fla. where Vickerstaff is stationed to notify him of his daughter’s death. Authorities say Vickerstaff did not provide any information on his daughter’s death.
Authorities then met with Ruth Vickerstaff, wife of Lamar since May 2006, who told detectives that she did not know his daughter or who may be the mother of Jane Doe.
After narrowing down the results to Jane Doe’s mother, results claimed a woman residing in Maryland. In December of 2022, detectives met with 37-year-old Sherry Wiggins who confirmed she was the biological mother of Jane Doe. Wiggins is a native of Norfolk, Va. and stated she gave birth to a baby girl named Amore Joveah Wiggins in January 2006.
Wiggins provided documentation showing that Lamar and Ruth Vickerstaff obtained legal and physical custody of her daughter in 2009, at which time her visitation with Amore was suspended. Wiggins also provided documents indicating that she has continuously paid child support to Lamar Vickerstaff since 2009.
Detectives reached out to the school boards and pediatric clinics in several states where the Vickerstaffs resided and determined that Amore was never enrolled in school nor was she reported as a missing person.
Amore’s death was determined to be a homicide and believed to have occurred between the summer of 2010 to 2011.
On January 17, 2023, Lamar and Ruth Vickerstaff were arrested in Jacksonville, Fla. Lamar Vickerstaff was charged with felony murder and Ruth was arrested for failure to report a missing child.
They are currently being held at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office pending extradition to Lee County.
This case remains under investigation, and detectives need the public’s assistance in gathering additional details regarding Lamar and Ruth Vickerstaff’s relationship with Amore Wiggins and her time spent in Opelika, Ala. If you have any information, please contact the Opelika Police Department Detective Division at (334) 705-5220 or the Secret Witness Hotline at (334) 745-8665.
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