Authorities in Texas say a body found on the interstate between Houston and Dallas in 1980 has been finally identified as that of a teenage girl long missing from Stillwater, Minn. 

The Walker County Sheriff’s Office said that new mitochondrial DNA technology helped them track the unidentified remains to relations among a handful of possible family members. 

Investigators worked through the list and eventually identified the remains as those of Sherri Ann Jarvis, who was 14 when she was sexually assaulted, strangled, and left naked and dead beside the interstate, where a passing truck driver spotter her, 41 years ago. 

DNA cold case: The body of a slain teenager was found Nov. 1, 1980, along this stretch of interstate north of Huntsville, Texas. Authorities announced Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, that the girl has been identified as runaway Sherri Ann Jarvis, 14, of Stillwater, Minn. (Google)

Walker County Sheriff Chief Deputy Tim Whitecotton said her slaying remains unsolved.  

“We actually have some positive leads right now. We’re very excited about some of these and definitely are following up with our other law enforcement partners, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Texas Rangers,” he said in an interview. 

Authorities believe she was last seen alive at a nearby truck stop, asking directions to a Texas prison farm. 

Her family told investigators she’d been in trouble at home in Minnesota, and was sent to a foster home before she disappeared. It wasn’t clear how she got to Texas or if she had any connection to the prison. 

DNA cold case: Sherri Ann Jarvis, of Stillwater, Minn., is pictured in undated photos.

Authorities announced the discovery in Huntsville, Texas today. They said they were also looking at similar deaths in other jurisdictions around Texas, and trying to identify suspects in those cases.  

A statement released by the family thanked detectives for staying on the case, saying they’d been searching for her for years, even hiring their own investigator to try and find her. They said she loved children, animals, and horseback riding, and was taken from her family at age 13 for truancy before she disappeared. They said her parents died long before she was identified and before they might have known her fate. 

Authorities said they still hoped someone may have more details about the case to share. 

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