Georgia authorities said on Friday they had found human remains that may belong to a woman last seen in the 1970s who disappeared from a cheerleading camp for teenagers.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement it had discovered remains in a remote area of Catoosa County that may be that of Mary Elizabeth Marshall in July 1970. Marshall, 15, was last seen alive at an Atlanta Waffle House, allegedly after fighting with camp officials who had ordered her to leave the camp because she had not paid her hotel bill.
Maine assistant attorney general Stephen Arnold said in a news conference that authorities had a “leading cause of death”, but declined to give details.
“We do have some very strong lead evidence that indicates that this is the body of Mary Elizabeth Marshall,” Arnold said.
He said the remains had been taken to a medical examiner’s office in the US for testing. “It is highly likely that it is our Mary Elizabeth Marshall, but they have a ways to go to make that proven,” he said.
Arnold said Marshall had been reported missing twice before she vanished from the Waffle House during a “shuffle” of cheerleaders in which there were allegations of violence and abuse. She had accompanied several high school classmates from Horizon Camp, a Georgia-based camp for young women, to the restaurant to meet other cheerleaders.
Staff at the restaurant had also complained that Marshall was drinking and had stolen food and money in the past. Three instructors at the camp had also accused Marshall of repeated sexual harassment.
In a letter to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Marshalls’ mother, Gerrita Marshall, requested that authorities release more information about their investigation.
“I am asking you, sir, to please do an updated statement to the media so that we all will know exactly what you are doing and where you are going with the investigation,” her letter read.
The location where the remains were found is about 100 miles north of the camp.
Marshall was eventually arrested and charged with burglary. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison.