Alabama police, with the help of DNA technology, have finally been able to identify the remains of a young girl they found buried in a trailer park in 2012 — and in doing so, put her parents behind bars.
The girl, known as “Baby Jane Doe” for nearly 11 years, has been identified as Amore Joveah Wiggins, Opelika police said Thursday.
Police located her father, Lamar Wickerstaff Jr., 50, in Jacksonville, Florida, and charged him with felony murder on Tuesday. Vickerstaff and Amore’s stepmother, Ruth Vickerstaff — who both reportedly denied knowing Amore — were charged with failure to report a missing child.
Amore’s biological mother, Sherry Wiggins, who did not have custody of the girl, had spent the past 11 years searching for her daughter.
Amore’s skull and bones were found on January 28, 2012, buried in a trailer park in Opelika, a town about 60 miles east of Montgomery. A pink child’s shirt and a small bundle of curly hair were also found nearby.
An autopsy found that the girl had suffered more than 15 fractures throughout her body in various stages of healing. Amore was blind in her left eye due to a fractured eye socket and was malnourished at the time of her death, Police Chief Shane Healey said.
“Since that day, Baby Jane has been part of our OPD family,” Healy said, fighting back tears during a press conference.
Police made two attempts over the years to find Amore’s identity using DNA technology, but hit walls because of the condition of her remains. Officers at the time only knew she was a black girl between the ages of four and seven.
Finally, a breakthrough in DNA technology helped investigators identify Navy SEAL Lamar Vickerstaff, who grew up in Opelika, as the girl’s biological father.
In October 2022, officers visited Vickerstaff where she was in Jacksonville, but she reportedly did not provide any information about Baby Jane’s identity, Healey said. His wife Ruth, who has been married to Vickerstaff since 2006 — the year Amore was born — said she did not know Vickerstaff’s daughter.
But Sherry Wiggins, Emory’s biological mother, gave police documentary evidence that Wickerstaff was not only Amore’s father, but that he and Ruth had full custody of the girl in 2009.
Wiggins, who was no longer allowed to visit her daughter, had been faithfully paying Vickerstaff child support since 2009. Wiggins told police she had never heard of Baby Jane Doe of Opelika and is fighting in court to win back the right to see Amore.
“He’s been looking for her ever since,” Healy said.
The Vickerstaffs never enrolled Amore in schools or took her to doctor’s appointments in any of the various states they lived in over the years, but they never reported the girl missing, police allege.
Despite finally finding Amore’s identity, Opelika police do not believe they have fully served the young woman.
“Amore suffered a terrible, horrible death,” said Capt. Jonathan Clifton said. “She had a tragic end to her life and we need the public’s help to come forward and help us make sure we get justice for this work.”