(UPDATE-March 23, 2021)
Forensic Science Solves Cold Case
The Covington County Sheriff’s Office received confirmation that the human remains discovered in the Conecuh National Forest on March 6, 2020, belong to Kimberly “Starr” Mulder, a 52-year-old mother from Wetumpka, Alabama. Investigators spent over a week in 2020 excavating the site of the discovered remains. With the assistance of a forensic anthropologist, dirt and vegetation was sifted through and several items of evidentiary value were collected and submitted for DNA analysis. In January 2021, Investigators returned to the scene again in an effort to recover more evidence. The Sheriff’s Office was contacted by a forensic pathologist who confirmed the identity as Mulder, who has been missing from Elmore County since June 11, 2016.
Covington County investigators met with Elmore County investigators and the case was given new emphasis. Through a collaborative effort, the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office had sufficient evidence to establish Thomas Edward Whitehurst as a suspect in Mulder’s death. At the time of her disappearance, Mulder resided with Whitehurst in their Wetumpka, Alabama home. The couple was divorced but continued to reside together.
The investigation revealed that Whitehurst was originally from Andalusia, Alabama and was familiar with the area where the remains were recovered. Mulder’s manner of death was deemed a homicide based on her disappearance, coupled with a small caliber gunshot wound to the head. Tuesday morning, Elmore County Investigators served an arrest warrant for murder on Thomas Whitehurst when he departed his driveway for work.
Sheriff Turman had this to say, “As with any case, especially a cold case of this nature, patience is paramount. After putting in countless man hours, our investigators felt personally invested in this case. We joined the public anxiously awaiting the identification of these remains for the past year. Finally receiving an answer was such a relief."
The Sheriff’s Office has released very few details of the investigation over the past year in an effort to not taint the integrity of the investigation. The Elmore County Sheriff’s Office is the host agency, and we were happy to assist so the family can finally have closure. Forensic science played a significant role in piecing this together. I am very proud of all the investigators who spent countless hours excavating the scene and collecting the necessary evidence to bring this case together. We send our condolences to the family.
(Original Story) - March 20, 2020
Human remains discovered in Conecuh National Forest, homicide suspected.
Friday, March 20, 2020 - 6:30 pm
The U.S. Forest Service made an unusual discovery in the Conecuh National Forest recently.
Human skeletal remains were discovered in the Conecuh National Forest in the southern area of Covington County on March 6, 2020. The Criminal Investigations Division of the Covington County Sheriff’s Office responded to the location after receiving a call from an officer with the U.S. Forest Service. Employees with the U.S. Forest Service stumbled across the human remains while marking timber.
The preliminary investigation revealed human skeletal remains of what appears to be an adult, and foul play is suspected.
Covington County Investigators contacted Dr. Allysha Winburn, an assistant professor of anthropology with the University of West Florida, for assistance.
Through a collaborative effort with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, U.S. Forest Service, District Attorney’s Office and Dr. Winburn’s team of anthropologists, the area was thoroughly searched. The site search took approximately a week to complete.
Investigators with the Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Forest Service, and anthropologists excavated an area around the skeletal remains. According to Sheriff Blake Turman, the investigation has been a slow process thus far. Investigators relied on the anthropologists for bone identification and timeline.
"The investigation has been fruitful so far and we are optimistic that the identity of the person will be revealed through DNA testing at the Department of Forensic Sciences located in Montgomery, Alabama," Turman said. "Investigators have spent over a week sifting through dirt and vegetation for evidence. It is unknown how long the human remains have been there without further testing by forensic science."
The investigation is being handled as a homicide based on evidence discovered by the investigators.
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52 years old
Weight: 130 lbs.
Hair: Brown, Blonde
Sexual Orientation: HETEROSEXUAL
Foul Play Suspected: Yes
Suspected Suicide: No
Cause of Death: Murder - Gunshot Wound(s)
Reported missing on June 11, 2016 - 2484 days, 20 hours, 51 minutes ago
Found on March 6, 2020 - 1120 days, 20 hours, 51 minutes ago
This case file was posted on
Mar 24, 2021 at 09:17
This case file was last modified on
Apr 02, 2021 at 19:40
This case file has been assigned the Missing Persons ID 2348
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