SCSO continues to investigate Baby Doe case

COLUMBIANA – Sunday, Nov. 12, will mark 35 years since the beginning of a local cold case involving a newborn who was found dead at the Shelby County Landfill.

According to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, the body of a white, female baby was discovered by a landfill bulldozer operator on Nov. 12, 1982. A story printed in the Nov. 18, 1982 edition of the Shelby County Reporter identified the operator as Johnnie Givhan Lemley.

“He found the baby in some debris. Of course, they called the Sheriff’s Office and an investigation was commenced,” SCSO Cold Case Squad Investigator Jim Dormuth said. “It was a very extensive, detailed investigation.”

According to Dormuth, an autopsy determined that the infant, known as “Baby Doe,” was alive at the time of her birth and was approximately two days old when her body was found. Baby Doe’s official cause of death is unknown and was ruled a homicide by authorities.

“The investigation at that time was unable to determine the baby’s identity or any family members,” Dormuth said.

Investigators at the time noted that the landfill contained debris from the Columbiana area.

“It’s believed that she was in debris from Columbiana,” Dormuth said.

Eventually, Dormuth said, the Baby Doe case went cold due to the lack of leads that the SCSO received.

“Two of the things with cold cases that help get them resolved are time and technology,” Dormuth said. “In this case, it’s been 35 years since she was found, and we’re hoping that the relationships have changed (in a way) that would cause someone to come forward and speak to us.”

The SCSO encourages anyone who may have additional information about the Baby Doe case to contact investigators by calling them at 669-4181 or their Secret Witness Line at 669-9116.