Family receives answers in 1981 Brooks Co. death

Family receives answers in 1981 Brooks Co. death

QUITMAN, Ga. (WALB) - A family is finally receiving closure after their daughter disappeared back in 1981 and was found in Brooks County.

The GBI positively identified a murder victim as their missing family member, a woman murdered almost 40 years ago.

“Just trying to find any glimpse of hope and there was never anything," said Johnnie Hay.

The GBI positively identified a murder victim as their missing loved one.
The GBI positively identified a murder victim as their missing loved one. (Source: WALB)

With her family at her side, Hay said that she searched for years checking through unidentified bodies in search of her older sister, Shirlene Hammack.

“We are a close family. I always felt like if she was alive, she would be home. We had a lot of major deaths right after she left and we never heard anything else from her," said Hay.

Expecting to see her during the holiday season or to get a call, the family said they didn’t know what to think.

“After 30-something years, it’s just kind of not something you talk about every day. But it’s in the back of your mind and you think about it all the time," said Hay.

This is why two years ago when they got the call from law enforcement, they were filled with anxiety and hope that they would finally get some answers.

The GBI's forensic sketch
The GBI's forensic sketch (Source: GBI)

“This case is bittersweet. We know the identity now but also it’s their tragedy. I don’t think there’s any other way to describe it," said GBI Special Agent, Jamy Steinberg.

The GBI issued a release with many details of this case, and how it was solved.

“It’s a happy and joyous thing, however at the same time, you have an answer. There’s no possible way that you’re going to find her alive," said Hay.

The family shared that they are in the process of trying to figure out how to relocate their loved one’s body to their hometown.

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