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Some Answers

       In late 1997, I was contacted by Todd Matthews and sent the initial information on this case from which the above synopsis was written. Todd Matthews is the son-in-law of Wilbur Riddle, the man who found the Tent Girl’s body in the first place; for this reason, Matthews has had a long standing interest in the mystery. 

       In February 1998, Matthews contacted a woman on the internet — Rosemary Westbrook — who was trying to locate her missing sister; her sister had gone missing after a short visit with family in Florida in December 1967. Photos of the missing sister bore a good resemblance to the police sketches of the Tent Girl; both matched closely in height and weight, had similar hair color, and both women had a gap between their front teeth, which is a common feature in Westbrook’s family. Photos and other pertinent information were forwarded by Matthews and Westbrook to Sheriff Bobby Hammons, who was convinced... so much so, that it was decided to exhume the Tent Girl’s body for the purpose of collecting DNA to compare with the family of the missing sister. 

       On March 2, 1998, Tent Girl was exhumed, and sent to a laboratory in Frankfort, Kentucky, for examination by Dr. Emily Craig, forensic anthropologist and state medical examiner. Known details of the Tent Girl and known details and photos of the missing sister were compared closely. Within the new examination, Dr. Craig estimated the age of the Tent Girl at death as being between the ages of 20 and 30; previous estimates, made in 1968, thought she would have been around 16 and 19. The age of the missing sister at the time of her disappearance was 24, falling within the new age estimate for the Tent Girl. 

       The telling point was the DNA test, however. An arm bone with the elbow joint and the lower jaw with teeth from the Tent Girl’s remains were sent to Lab Corp in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, to have the DNA sample extracted; this DNA was then compared to a DNA sample from Rosemary Westbrook. The tests took time; but, on April 22, 1998, it was announced that the DNA testing had indeed confirmed what all had hoped... Tent Girl was indeed Westbrook’s missing sister, Barbara Ann Hackmann Taylor. 

       When Barbara Taylor lost contact with her family in 1967, she was living in Lexington with her husband, Earl Taylor. She was 24 years old with three children, one of them an eight-month old child, thus explaining where the diaper found with her body came from. Earl Taylor worked with carnivals and driving trucks, and traveled a great deal. 

       At the time of Barbara’s disappearance, no search had been made nor any missing persons report filed in Lexington for the simple reasons that Earl Taylor had told her family that she had run away, and her family did not know the Taylors were living in Kentucky; a missing persons report had been filed in Miami, Florida, where Barbara’s family had last seen her. At the time that she had visited her family in Florida, Barbara had told them that she and Earl would be moving to North Carolina, and later a police search was conducted there with no results... no one knows why Barbara never let her family know that she and Earl had stopped in Lexington. 

       Sadly, Westbrook had attempted to file a missing persons report with the Lexington Police Department on October 31, 1995, as part of her ongoing search for any trace of her sister. She talked to an Officer Lilly in the Missing Persons/Homicide department, and answered the questions, but nothing ever came of it. On her first visit to Lexington later, she told a TV reporter about the report; when he checked on it, he could find no evidence that the report had ever been filed. It appears that Officer Lilly never filled out the report, and probably felt that he/she was only humoring a strange phone caller on a Halloween night, which is unfortunate... had the report been filed, likely Barbara Taylor would have been identified in 1995, four years earlier than she finally was.