Meridian Star

February 12, 2014

Body identified as missing woman

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —  The human remains found in an overgrown field last week have been identified as a woman missing since last year.

    Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department Chief Dep. Ward Calhoun said the department received confirmation Wednesday from the Mississippi State Crime Lab in Jackson that the remains were those of Cynthia LeFlore.

    "The missing person's case has now turned into a death investigation," Calhoun said late Wednesday afternoon. "We don't, however, have a cause of death yet. That will be determined soon."

    LCSD authorities said DNA testing was key in identifying LeFlore, whose body was found late Friday off Old Highway 19 South near Camp Binachi Road.

    "We just went from one mystery to another," said LCSD Maj. Casey McElhenney, commander of the LCSD's Criminal Investigation Division. "Now we have to find out how this woman died and from there, determine if foul play was involved. If it is indeed a homicide, then our next move will be trying to find the person or persons responsible."

    McElhenney said he didn't have a timetable as to when the cause of death would be made.

    LeFlore, a 51-year-old black woman, last had contact with family members in Meridian on July 18, 2013. According to reports at the time, LeFlore told a family member she would be home shortly after spending some time in a Meridian hotel. She was never seen or heard from again.

    Around 3:30 p.m. Friday, workers planting pine tree samplings in a field in the 3700 block of Old Highway 19 South discovered human remains. When authorities arrived on the scene, they found bones scattered over a large area of the heavily overgrown cutover. Some articles of clothing consistent with what a woman would wear were found in the area as well.

    Lauderdale County Coroner Clayton Cobler said Friday evening the remains appeared to be that of a black woman. Investigators with the LCSD then began collecting DNA samples from relatives in order to compare to the DNA of the remains.