On a lovely fall day in 1967, 13-year-old Teala Patricia Thompson and a friend were making their way to the Jolly Red Wiener pinball shop in their hometown of Homewood, Pennsylvania. Her family had no idea this fateful day would be their last with Teala. Somewhere along the way, she disappeared. Her case went cold for nearly 50 years.
Oddly enough, the decomposing body of a young girl was found unclothed in a landfill only two weeks after Teala Thompson vanished, but went unidentified. According to CBS News, the remains of the girl were placed with another unidentified body, (a baby boy who was found drowned in a sewer pipe), and placed in a pauper’s grave.
Teala’s sister, Mary Thompson, who was 4-years-old when the older girl disappeared, was able to shed light on the reason the body was not identified at the time of discovery. She said her mother, who gave birth to 10 children, could not face the horrifying truth. She passed away in 2005.
“They called my mom to come identify the body, but my mom would not go identify the body. She kept that to herself. She just kept saying that ‘That’s not my daughter, my daughter’s coming home. She’ll walk through this door anytime.’”
“But we was young, so we didn’t know that. It was always kept kind of quiet. But my mom, deep in her heart, she knew Teala was gone, but she didn’t have the heart to tell us.”
— GALZI FORENSICS (@PalomaJGalzi) August 4, 2016
Mary Thompson reveals that her family always believed a man Teala worked with at the local dry cleaner was responsible for her disappearance, or knew who was responsible, but no one was ever brought up on charges. While the details of the Thompson murder case have not been solved, Mary says her family has some form of closure knowing where Teala is now.
“In my heart, I don’t believe the man who did this to her is still here. I think the guy who did this to her was an old man. Although we may never know all the details of exactly what happened, we know this is her and we now have closure.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that an effort to solve the Teala Thompson case was renewed in 2014. Trooper Brian Gross was given the assignment. He had the body exhumed, vowing to search not only for the teen girl’s killer but also for the story behind the baby boy’s death. He is depending on the community to come forward with anything they can remember from the decades-old missing persons case.
“Anybody that was with Teala and maybe even recalls the day they saw her and the next day she was gone. Those circumstances surrounding where they were in Homewood, what they were doing — this could help us piece this puzzle back together.”
Trooper Gross is confident that Teala Thompson was murdered.
“This girl as found unclothed in a landfill covered in garbage. There’s no other possibility in my mind other than homicide. She was so badly decomposed, and there’s no notation in the autopsy report of any rape kit being done. That evidence was obviously never collected back in ’67. Had it been, we could have analyzed it today.”
They were, however, able to match Teala’s DNA with her sister Mary and others in the Thompson family, to positively identify the girl. CBS News further notes that a recent forensic evaluation has shown the likelihood that Teala Thompson was murdered with a blow to the back of her head. Investigators have renewed efforts to find her murderer.
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