More than six decades after a 14-year-old girl was found dead in the woods near her family’s Ohio home, authorities say they are one step closer to identifying her killer. The girl’s sister, who was just 5 at the time of the murder, recently worked with a forensic artist to create a composite sketch of the suspect that law enforcement hopes will trigger memories and new tips from anyone who might recognize him.
Nancy Eagleson was last seen walking home from the local movie theater with her sister, Sheryl, on Nov. 13, 1960, the Ohio attorney general’s office wrote in a description of her cold case. They stopped for a soda along the way at a restaurant in the area of Paulding, where they lived, and at that point were only a few minutes’ walk from their house. It was just after 7 p.m.
A white man wearing dark glasses stopped his car as the sisters walked down a stretch of Route 111, a main highway, and asked if they needed a ride home. When Eagleson declined, authorities say the man forced her into the car and drove off, after pushing her young sister aside. Eagleson’s body was found the next day in a wooded area about eight miles from the site of the abduction. She had been shot and sexually assaulted.
After the killing, Sheryl described the suspect to law enforcement as “an adult white male of a medium build,” who wore “church clothes” including a tie, overcoat and fedora, authorties said in a news release that unveiled two composite sketches of the man. She had shared additional details about the suspect’s appearance, noting that he wore “black horn-rimmed glasses and had rosy cheeks,” and drove a dark sedan with a “winged-back,” according to the release.
Incorporating the features that Sheryl could remember, a forensic artist with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation recently created two composite sketches of the suspect. One sketch does not include facial features “because Sheryl could not remember the details” while the second includes generic facial features, the attorney general’s office said.
“This man was seared into the memory of a young girl who survived a heinous crime many years ago,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a statement. “Now, thanks to forensic artistry at BCI, we can see the suspected killer through her eyes and hopefully discover his identity.”
Paulding County Sheriff Jason Landers added that “after 63 years, it’s hard to clearly recall every detail, but she [Sheryl] did great!”
“I am hopeful this sketch will resonate with someone and will contact my office with their tip,” Landers said.
Yost and Landers’ offices are now working together to identify Eagleson’s killer. They have shared the composite images alongside details relevant to the cold case, including a map of the area where the abduction and murder happened, in a public bulletin issued by the criminal intelligence unit at the attorney general’s office. Anyone with information potentially related to the case has been asked to contact the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office.
Eagleson’s cold case reentered public discourse earlier this year, after a judge approved her family’s request to exhume the body for modernized forensic testing and police subsequently shared previously unknown details about how she was killed, ABC affiliate station 21 Alive News reported. CBS affiliate WTOL-11 conducted a year-long independent investigation into Eagleson’s death and released a short documentary series about the findings last February, which garnered attention from a survivor of a similar abduction and a state investigator, according to the station. The documentary series suggested that the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office may have been involved in a cover-up scheme after Eagleson was killed, although that claim was not confirmed.