Identity of girl revealed 11 years after remains found; father, stepmother arrested

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 9:05 AM HST
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OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM/Gray News) - An over-decade long investigation into the remains of a young Jane Doe in Opelika has finally led to the discovery of her identity.

In an emotional news conference by the Opelika Police Department on Thursday, the child’s name, as well as names of her family, were released. Officials say Jane Doe has been identified as Amore Jovaeh Wiggins.

Amore’s death was determined by police to be a homicide and believed to have occurred between the summer of 2010 to 2011.

Opelika police have identified 'Baby Jane Doe' as Amore Joveah Wiggins.
Opelika police have identified 'Baby Jane Doe' as Amore Joveah Wiggins.(Source: Opelika Police Department)

On Tuesday, Lamar and Ruth Vickerstaff were arrested in Jacksonville, Fla. Lamar Vickerstaff was charged with felony murder and Ruth Vickerstaff was charged with failure to report a missing child.

They are currently being held at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office pending extradition to Lee County.

It’s been nearly 11 years since the unidentified body of a young girl was found in Opelika, and since then she’s become known as the Opelika Jane Doe.

In January 2012, Opelika police responded to Brookhaven Trailer Park in Opelika after skeletal remains were found. A skull was located in the yard of a residence, while the majority of the bones were located only a few feet into the woodline behind a trailer and the adjacent lot. During the search of the area, a pink child’s shirt and a small bundle of curly hair were also recovered.

Opelika officials told the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children their investigation has recently led them to Virginia and North Carolina, two areas where the little girl may have lived.

Lamar and Ruth Vickerstaff are charged in the Opelika 'Baby Jane Doe' case.
Lamar and Ruth Vickerstaff are charged in the Opelika 'Baby Jane Doe' case.(Source: Opelika Police Department)

Officials said the remains were sent to the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, where a medical examination revealed that the remains were of a Black female likely between 4 to 7 years old.

Authorities said an autopsy notated fractures to her skull, arms, legs, shoulders and ribs, more than 15 individual fractures attributed to blunt-force trauma. These injuries all had evidence of healing and occurred sometime before her death.

Authorities also said her left eye was scarred, leaving her blind in that eye, most likely from the abuse she endured before her slaying.

Officials said two laboratories successfully extracted DNA from her scalp and hair. A comprehensive genealogical profile was built, the profile was uploaded to a DNA database, and an experienced genealogist identified relatives and developed investigative leads.

In October 2022, Jane Doe’s father was identified as 50-year-old Lamar Vickerstaff Jr., who was born and raised in Opelika before enlisting in the U.S. Navy. During his lengthy Navy career, he resided in Norfolk, Virginia, Honolulu, Hawaii and Jacksonville, Florida.

In December 2022, Opelika detectives traveled to the Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, where Vickerstaff is stationed, to notify him of his daughter’s death. Authorities said Vickerstaff did not provide any information on his daughter’s death.

Authorities then met with Ruth Vickerstaff, his wife since May 2006, who told detectives that she didn’t know his daughter or who may be the mother of Jane Doe.

After narrowing down the results to Jane Doe’s mother, results pointed to a woman residing in Maryland. In December 2022, detectives met with 37-year-old Sherry Wiggins who confirmed she was the biological mother of Jane Doe. Wiggins, a native of Norfolk, Virginia, stated she gave birth to a baby girl named Amore Joveah Wiggins in January 2006.

Wiggins provided documentation showing that Lamar and Ruth Vickerstaff obtained legal and physical custody of her daughter in 2009, at which time her visitation with Amore was suspended. Wiggins also provided documents indicating that she has continuously paid child support to Lamar Vickerstaff since 2009.

Detectives reached out to the school boards and pediatric clinics in several states where the Vickerstaffs resided and determined that Amore was never enrolled in school nor was she reported as a missing person.

This case remains under investigation, and detectives need the public’s assistance in gathering additional details regarding Lamar and Ruth Vickerstaff’s relationship with Amore Wiggins and her time spent in Opelika.

If you have any information, contact the Opelika Police Department Detective Division at 334-705-5220 or the Secret Witness Hotline at 334-745-8665.