Crime Stoppers: Teenager's bones found in Hernando County

10:28 PM, Aug 6, 2010   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida - Jill VanWormer was the trusting type.

The 19-year-old was known for her friendliness and easygoing nature.

Everyone loved her, especially her co-workers at Pyramid Auto Parts where she made deliveries.

April 8, 1986 would be her last call.

Jill was called out to 28th Street and 110th Avenue. No one ever saw her again.

"When deputies got to the scene, there's no truck, no delivery truck. There's no one there, there's virtually nothing there," said Detective Bailey.

A man called saying the drive shaft on his truck was broken. Jill was sent out to pick up the broken parts.

"They would send females out rather than males because it was cheaper to insure the trucks. They would send females out there," Detective Bailey told us.

She would not make it back alive. Her killer most likely sensed her honesty and kindness and capitalized on it, detectives say.

"Unfortunately, probably the person that kidnapped her, not that she went willing, she probably wouldn't have fought this person and may have also been the reason they traveled for so long, and people didn't notice her in the vehicle," says cold case homicide Detective Mike Bailey.

The investigator with the Pinellas Sheriff's Office is hoping to find the person responsible for Jill's death.

Detective Bailey told us this about the killer. "They weren't even waiting for an opportunity. They were making their own luck."

After Jill didn't come back to work, her bosses became concerned.

"They got worried," Detective Bailey explained. "She's a very good employee that... would not have been gone for an extended period of time. They knew something was not right."

Jill's truck was found in Hernando County in a wooded area the next day. A lineman doing some work discovered it.

Detectives questioned everyone in Pinellas County in the area where Jill was called out the day before, but no one knew anything.

"It would have been about lunchtime, so it's very well traveled. My guess is that, more than likely, he had convinced her to get in a vehicle with him under a ruse," said Detective Bailey.

The man who kidnapped Jill most likely bound her hands, drove her to Hernando County, raped her, shot her in the chest and dumped her body.

He was hoping she would never be found.

The day that Jill's company got the call to make that delivery, another girl was supposed to make that service call. But, instead, it was Jill that came out to 28th Street and 110th Avenue, never knowing what was about to happen.

Detectives never found Jill's body until four years later on May 15, 1990.

Her bones were found not too far from where her truck was discarded in Hernando County.

Detective Bailey described the scene where her bones were found. "Her remains were scattered throughout a heavily densely wooded area off of U.S. 19 about the same distance off of U.S. 19 as the truck was discovered, but about 10 miles north of that."

So, how do you solve a case with no evidence or DNA?

"This is a case where you have to look at what very little forensic evidence you have. A lot of what we do is go back and see what similar crimes they have committed, if they can be linked to this case," says Bailey.

The man who called that day never left a name or number, just a location.

Since her bones were found four years later, no DNA was ever discovered on Jill's clothes.

And her killer is still out there.

Melanie Brooks, 10 Connects

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