3:06 PM PDT, June 2, 2021
A severed head that was found in a plastic bag near a Louisiana swamp three years ago has been identified as a Texas woman who went missing in 2017, authorities said.
The head that belonged to 58-year-old Sally Ann Hines of San Antonio, Texas, was identified through dental records, according to the Associated Press.
The grisly discovery was made by a clean-up team working along the marshy Louisiana highway in March 2018, FOX 19 reported.
At the time, Cameron Parish Sheriff Ron Johnson told FOX 19 that he had very little information to go on.
“We don’t know where the crime occurred even what state,” Johnson said.
After a DNA test was done that garnered no matches, the remains were sent to Louisiana State University’s Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services, or FACES, laboratory for analysis. At the lab, scientists reverse-engineered a facial reconstruction and released a composite image through the Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office in 2019, according to Law & Crime.
Two years later, an anonymous tip came in and was the break detectives had been hoping for.
In early May, a female caller contacted Detective Tammy Gaspard and informed her that the composite image resembled a missing person flyer for Hines. Once authorities followed up, they discovered that Hines’s dental records matched with those of the severed head, a report said.
Johnson told Law & Crime the findings by a lone individual was “ironic.”
“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,” Johnson said.
Sally Ann Hines was reported missing by her husband, Harold Hines on Dec. 14, 2017. Her car was left behind, along with her phone, her purse and her medicine, a report said.
At the time, the couple had been married for 35 years. Harold Hines said that she had been undergoing treatment for a mental condition and left on foot, Law & Crime reported.
During a 2018 interview, he said “a lot of it doesn’t make sense.” “When I got up, she was gone. She hadn’t come back, let’s put it that way,” he said, Fox 19 reported.
Sally Ann’s sister, Barbara Gauthier, told KPLC News she was devastated over sister’s disappearance and said she hopes “whoever did this horrific act pays for what they did to her.” “We will not rest until we know what happened,” Gauthier said.
The investigation into Hines death is ongoing.