Local News

Reward Offered to Identify Remains Found in 1998

Posted February 5, 2008 12:26 p.m. EST
Updated February 5, 2008 6:37 p.m. EST

— Orange County authorities on Tuesday announced a reward for information that would help them identify the remains of a boy found near Mebane almost a decade ago.

The Carole Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation put up a $5,000 reward to help generate leads in the case, Orange County Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass said.

The 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 was 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.

Bruce Crisp, who lives up the street from where the remains were found, said he hoped someone would eventually tell investigators who the child was and why he was left there.

"You would think somebody would have, but nobody ever did," Crisp said.

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

The proximity of the interstate could mean whoever is responsible for the boy's death came from miles away, Collins said. Investigators hope the reward and exposure offered by the Carole Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation will help generate leads in the case, he said.

"The identity of this child itself would be a huge step in resolving this case," he said, noting Orange County authorities tried for a year before getting the foundation to assist with the case.

The Carole Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation was established following the kidnapping and death of Sund, one of three women sightseers found slain near Yosemite National Park in February 1999. While the women were missing, Carole Sund’s parents, Francis and Carole Carrington, posted rewards both for their safe return and for information leading to the whereabouts of their rental car.

Since then, the foundation has paid more than $3.2 million in rewards in hundreds of missing persons cases and unsolved violent crimes, and the tips the rewards generated helped locate 135 missing people and led to arrests in more than 300 homicide cases.

There are 48 missing or unidentified people in North Carolina, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, including the boy and the body of a woman found off I-40 near the New Hope Church Road exit in Orange County in 1990. The woman was 15 to 21 years old, had strawberry-blonde hair and was 5 feet, 3 inches tall, authorities said.

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.