Human remains initially found in 2013 in Midland County, Texas, have now been positively identified as those of a teenager who went missing in 2000, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Photo by Texas Department of Public Safety
June 28 (UPI) -- Human remains initially found in 2013 in Midland County, Texas, have now been positively identified as those of a teenager who went missing in 2000, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Following an extensive investigation, the remains were identified as Sylvia Nicole Smith, the department said in a release issued Monday.
A homicide investigation is now underway.
Smith was 16 when she was last seen in February of 2000. At the time, her mother reported her as a runaway, filing the missing person's report four days after she last saw her daughter.
Survey workers discovered her remains in 2013 south of Midland, Texas, near an oilfield. The remains were sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification, where an anthropology report was completed, and DNA was extracted. But they were not positively identified until earlier this month.
An autopsy confirmed Smith's death was a homicide.
Several agencies, including the Texas Rangers and Midland County Sheriff's Office used forensic genealogy to make the identification.
"Rangers have interviewed numerous potential relatives to gather family information and in May 2022, information led to the victim's mother in the Midland area," the department said in a release.
Officers collected a DNA sample at that time, and scientists at the University of North Texas officially declared a match June 9.
The multi-agency homicide investigation is ongoing and police are asking for anyone with information to come forward.
Texas Crime Stoppers is also offering a cash reward of up to $3,000 for information.