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Three years after a human head was found wrapped in a plastic bag in a Louisiana swamp, authorities have identified the victim as a missing Texas woman.
In March 2018, members of a litter abatement team cleaning up a marshy area off Highway 27 in Cameron Parish made the startling discovery.
Last week, Cameron Parish Sheriff Ron Johnson confirmed that the woman had been positively identified as 58-year-old Sally Ann Hines, who disappeared from her home in San Antonio, Texas in late 2017. Hines is listed as an Indigenous Woman/Native American, joining a long list of females more susceptible to murder, rape, and violence than the rest of the U.S. population.
The rest of her body still hasn't been found.
"Native women are 10 times more likely to come up missing or murdered," Deborah Shipman, founder of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women told Oxygen.com. "That is through the legacy of racism."
Few details are known surrounding Hines’s disappearance. Her husband, Harold Hines, reported her missing on Dec. 14, 2017, noting in 2018 that she had recently received treatment “for a mental condition,” according local Louisiana news outlet KPLC. Hines had walked off on foot, leaving behind her medications, purse, phone, and car, her husband said.
Hines' head was found roughly 400 miles away from her home.
Investigators performed a DNA analysis on the remains, but didn't get a match, according to KPLC. Authorities then sent the head to the Louisiana State University FACES (Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services) Laboratory in Baton Rouge, where experts created a facial reconstruction composite for law enforcement. The coroner’s office released a digital approximation image to the public in 2019.
An anonymous tipster, noting the similarities between the sketch and missing persons flyer for Hines, called Det. Tammy Gaspard of the Cameron Parish Sheriff's Office.
“The irony of the cases though, even though we were getting to the very detailed forensic examination, the case was basically solved by just an individual looking on the internet and at the end of the day, that identifying the individual is the priority we did,” Cameron Parish coroner Kevin Dupke told KPLC.
Police were able to confirm Hines through dental records.
Shipman, the founder of MMIW, noted that "our numbers until two years ago, were not logged by the U.S. government," referring to the statistics of missing and murdered indigenous women.
"We literally had to go out to the communities and count our own dead."
Authorities and families are hoping the identification of Hines will help someone come forward with information.
Anyone with information can contact the San Antonio Police Department.
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