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Remains of Third Murder Victim Identified, One Victim Remains Unknown

SPRING HILL – Another victim has been identified in a series of murders that took place in Spring Hill over 40-years ago.

In March and April of 1981, four sets of human remains were recovered from the Mansfield property, located in the area of 3422 Roundup Lane. Two of the victims were immediately identified, but two remained unidentified until now.

Officials with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office say the body of 17-year-old Theresa Caroline Fillingim has been positively identified through DNA testing.

Officials released the following statement regarding the latest findings:

HCSO investigators have recently sought the services of the University of North Texas and Parabon Nano Labs (Parabon), a DNA technology company in Virginia. Parabon specializes in DNA phenotyping: the process of predicting physical appearance and ancestry from unidentified DNA evidence.

The HCSO worked with the University of North Texas and Parabon for this investigation. Law enforcement agencies use the company's Snapshot DNA Phenotyping Service (Snapshot) to narrow the suspect/victim list and generate leads in criminal investigations.

DNA evidence from the unidentified victims' were submitted to Parabon to generate actionable leads for this cold case.

The human remains (evidence) that were collected in 1981 were sent to several labs in an attempt to develop a DNA profile; however this was unsuccessful.

In 2020, a sample of the remains was sent to the University of North Texas where a complete DNA profile was developed and subsequently entered into the national database. A search of that database was unsuccessful.

However, the complete DNA profile was reviewed, and it was determined that a sufficient DNA sample of the unidentified victim existed for further testing.

Using DNA evidence from this investigation, Snapshot produced trait predictions for the associated victim. Individual predictions were made for the victim's ancestry, eye color, hair color, skin color, freckling, and face shape. Parabon's research developed a profile that was utilized in the identification of the victim in this case.

Fillingim was reported missing to the Tampa Police Department by her sister Margaret Johns on May 16, 1980. Fillingim's remains were recovered from the Mansfield property on April 3, 1981.

 

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