Forensic sketch by Marion County John Doe (left) compared to a missing person photograph by Donald Boardman (right).
An unlikely 1985 murder mystery was solved by an unlikely pair: a Tennessee housewife and a civilian employee monitoring the Facebook page of a Georgia police department.
Donald Boardman was reported missing in November 1985 to the Chamblee Police Department, which serves the town in northern DeKalb County, just about 14 miles northeast of Atlanta.
His fate was a mystery to friends and family for decades, until housewife Barbara King Ladd read an article about a murder victim whose body was found not far from her home in Marion County, Tennessee, in 1985.
Larry B. Davis of the 12th District Attorney’s Office had spoken to the Chattanooga Times Free Press for the newspaper story, which focused on a case he worked on as a young investigator that still haunted him, regarding partial skeletal remains, found by a fisherman in a tributary of I-24, which 37 years later had still not been identified.
Out of curiosity, King Ladd began screening missing persons sites in Tennessee and neighboring states.
“I thought it would be worth crossing state lines to dispose of a body. So I focused on Georgia because it’s close to Marion County,” King Ladd told Fox 5 DC.
“When I found Donald, I just knew it was him.
The woman sent a message to the Chamblee Police Department Facebook page and crime analyst Lori Bradburn was the first to see and respond to the message. The civil clerk located Boardman’s sister in Florida, and her DNA sample matched Marion County’s John Doe.
“Just piqued my interest and ran with it,” Bradburn told the outlet.
Boardman disappeared in 1985 shortly after buying a new Camaro. Police found the same vehicle weeks later in East Point, Tenn., with two men and a woman inside. Investigators now suspect Boardman was killed in a car theft gone wrong and his body thrown across state lines. Both men have since died, but investigators are contacting the woman for more information.
“From what I’ve been able to piece together, it appears to be a robbery gone wrong,” Bradburn said. “Hopefully she has answers, at least she can provide something that could offer a little more closure.”
The two women who cracked the case are hoping to solve others and possibly work together again in the future.
“I’d love to do more cold cases, apparently that’s my thing!” Bradburn said.
“One day I would like to work on another cold case, maybe with Lori. I would love to work with him again,” added King Ladd.
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