BROOKS COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) Police have positively identified a Thomaston woman nearly 40 years after she was found dead near a corn field in south Georgia.
On Halloween of 1981, the Brooks County Sheriff's Office found the body of an unidentified white female covered with tree limbs and foliage on a small, dirt lane entrance to a corn field near Dixie, Ga.
She could not be positively identified and was given the name, "JANE DOE." The woman was about 5'2" tall and weighed about 105 pounds and was believed to be between 18 and 24 years-old.
Not long after her murder, police arrested 52 year-old George Newsome in connection to the case. Police later determined that Newsome was part of a traveling fair with the woman at the time and was believed to be in the Quitman, Ga. area.
Newsome was traveling in a stolen motor home at the time and a search recovered a rope that had been used to strangle her. She had also been stabbed in the abdomen but the knife was never found.
Newsome plead guilty to her murder and was sentenced to life in prison, where he later died of natural causes on August 10, 1988. He never revealed her identity.
For years, the case went cold. Newspaper articles and other media outlets such as, “Unsolved Mysteries” were contacted in a continued attempt to identify her.
In fact, a family from Brooks County graciously paid for a proper burial for her with a quality casket inside of a cement vault and a marble slab over her resting place.
Flash forward to October 31, 2018, 37 years to the date of her murder, a citizen came forward, claiming to be a close friend of the woman's from childhood.
She remembered that her friend disappeared in the latter part of 1981 and was traveling with a fair. This chain of events led G.B.I. Agents and Brooks County Investigators to speak with and soon meet in person with the woman's surviving family members.
Her body was exhumed and DNA testing identified her as Shirlene "Cheryl" Hammack of Thomaston, Ga.
Several people contributed to the case, including the GBI, Brooks County SO, Brooke County Coroner, among others.