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New 3-D facial reconstruction could help solve cold case

Posted February 6, 2010
Updated February 7, 2010

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— Orange County authorities on Saturday evening unveiled a three-dimensional facial reconstruction of a boy found dead near Mebane more than a decade ago.

The realistic-looking sculpture by forensic artist Frank Bender was unveiled during a ceremony at North Carolina State University. Bender, who has worked with “America’s Most Wanted” and the FBI, did the sculpture at no cost in hopes that the 3-D image would bring about clues concerning the boy's identity.

The boy's skeletal remains were found on Sept. 25, 1998, near the Buckhorn Road exit off Interstate 40/85 by a worker mowing under a highway billboard. The billboard was on Industrial Drive, which parallels the southbound lanes of the interstate.

An autopsy determined the remains belonged to a white or Hispanic boy who appeared to be about 10 years old. He was about 4 feet, 11 inches tall and had dark brown hair about 3 to 4 inches long. White boys briefs, Polo-brand khaki shorts with a rider-and-horse emblem embroidered on cuff of a leg, white athletic socks and a pair of size 3 black-and-white athletic shoes with the brand “2XS” or “ZXS” were found on the remains.

"The clothing would indicate the child was well dressed, and he had some dental work. Someone cared for the child," said Capt. Bobby Collins, of the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities said the body could have been under the billboard for up to five months before it was found. No cause of death was ever determined, but investigators have long suspected foul play in the boy's death, noting he probably was killed elsewhere and placed there to hide his death.

If someone dumped the boy's body, investigators said, it's unlikely they stopped along the highway, because there's a barrier fence off the side of I-40/85.  The person would have had to exit at Buckhorn Road and then turn onto Industrial Drive before carrying the boy 76 feet to the clearing under the billboard, authorities said.

The boy's description has been listed in a national crime database for years, but investigators have had no success in determining the boy's identity and have received no reports of missing children that match his description or time of death.

Anyone with information in either Orange County case is asked to call Sheriff's Investigator Tim Horne at 919-644-3050 or 919-942-6300 the Carole Sund/Carrington Foundation at 1-888-813-8389.

The foundation put up a $5,000 reward in 2008 to help generate leads in the case.

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