A Laurel, Ind., woman missing for more than 40 years was found living in a small south Texas town under a different name, police said.
Lula Ann Gillespie-Miller, then 28, left her home in 1974 after giving birth to her third child, a release from the Indiana State Police said. She felt she was too young to be a mother and gave her parents custody of her children.
The last time her family heard from her was the following year, when they received a letter from their daughter postmarked in Richmond, Ind.
In 2014, State Police Detective Sgt. Scott Jarvis took on the missing persons case after learning about it from a website that assists families with those types of investigations, the release said.
Jarvis, who is based at the Pendleton post, has utilized modern methods to solve other cold cases. He told the Richmond Palladium-Item in 2014 that he previously found a missing Connersville woman and a missing Brookville man alive, but more often, such searches result in no answer.
During his investigation, Jarvis learned that the Richmond Police Department Records Division had a case of a deceased unidentified female found in 1975. The woman's body was dug up in December 2014. Jarvis planned to match DNA from Gillespie-Miller’s biological daughter with that of the unidentified woman.
But while he was awaiting test results, he was led in a different direction.
He began to investigate the trail of a woman with similarities to Gillespie-Miller, the release said, who had lived in Tennessee in the 1980s, then later in Texas.
On Thursday, Jarvis called Texas Rangers in the area and had them go to the woman’s home, the release said. The woman admitted that her name is actually Lula Gillespie-Miller, now 69, and that she is originally from Laurel.
"The daughters I'm in touch with are excited. They were 2 or 3 years old when their mom left," Jarvis told the Palladium-Item. "They're excited about the possibility of finding her for closure, but they don't have their hopes up. It's still just a possibility right now."
Since Gillespie-Miller did not commit a crime, police said, she has the right to remain anonymous. She also gave the Texas Rangers no explanation as to why she left her life in Indiana behind and disappeared.
Gillespie-Miller did allow Jarvis to give her contact information to one of her daughters, who hopes to talk with the mother she has never known this Easter weekend, police said.
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