A Jacksonville couple has been linked to a grisly baby Jane Doe case from nearly 11 years ago in Alabama.
The father, Lamar Vickerstaff Jr., 50, is charged with murder and his wife, Ruth Cenyatta Vickerstaff, 53, who is not the victim’s birth mother, is charged with failure to report a missing child. They were arrested Tuesday in Jacksonville and are expected to be extradited to Alabama in the coming weeks, according to Opelika Police Department in that state.
The police chief announced Thursday that “Opelika Jane Doe” has been positively identified as Amore Joveah Wiggins, born on Jan. 1, 2006.
Her skeletal remains were recovered on Jan. 28, 2012, when a skull was located in the yard of a residence in Opelika in Lee County while the majority of the bones were a few feet into the wood line behind a mobile home and adjacent lot. A search also turned up a child’s pink shirt with buttons shaped like hearts and a small bundle of curly black hair.
The autopsy determined she likely was 4 to 7 years old and sustained fractures to her skull, arms, legs, shoulders and ribs — 15 fractures in total that were attributed to blunt force trauma, according to police. The medical examiner also noted she may have been malnourished and blind in her left eye due to a fracture. Her death was ruled a homicide to have occurred from 2010 to 2011.
Since the discovery, detectives have reviewed over 15,000 case files, investigated thousands of tips and involved the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and several other agencies. With the advancements in DNA testing and forensic genetic genealogy sequencing, the child’s father was identified in October 2022 as Vickerstaff, the Police Department said. He was born and raised in Opelika before enlisting in the U.S. Navy and serving in Norfolk, Va., Hawaii and Jacksonville.
Detectives then traveled to Naval Station Mayport in December to notify Vickerstaff of his daughter’s death. But he didn’t provide them with any information on her identity, nor did his wife. They have been married since May 2006, and she said she didn’t know his daughter or who may be the mother, according to police.
A genealogist was able to determine several possible matches for the birth mother, and detectives narrowed the results down to a woman in Maryland, 37-year-old Sherry Wiggins. They met with her, also in December, and she confirmed she gave birth to a baby girl named Amore in January 2006, according to the investigation. She provided documentation showing that the Vickerstaffs obtained legal and physical custody of her daughter in 2009, at which time her visitation with Amore was suspended. She also had documents showing she was paying child support.
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Detectives contacted school systems and pediatric clinics in several states where Lamar and Ruth Vickerstaff lived and determined that Amore was never enrolled in school nor was she reported as a missing person. Warrants were then issued for their arrests.
Duval County court records show no local criminal histories for either Vickerstaff.
At Thursday’s news conference, Opelika Police Chief Shane Healey was visibly emotional in commending everyone’s efforts in the case and bringing resolution to baby Jane Doe’s demise.
“Amore Wiggins. It feels really good to say her name out loud.”
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: 2012 Opelika baby Jane Doe in Alabama leads to arrests in Jacksonville