Kimberly McClaskey of Canton, Illinois had been missing since 1983. Her clothing was found scattered along the Spoon River where she vanished as a seven-month pregnant 17 year-old. Her skeletal remains were found five years later seven miles from the same river but identification testing for bone samples were still in a preliminary phase and results were not conclusive.
Several years later, Gerald Nance and Bobbie Spammer of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children entered the picture. Their program works with Law Enforcement Agencies, Medical Examiner's, Coroner's offices and families helping to facilitate collection and testing of DNA samples for the missing. Through Bobbie Spammer's hard work, a bone sample from the remains found along the Spoon River was sent to the UNT Center for Human Identification for DNA testing, in December of 2004. Bobbie also worked with the McClaskey family and had a reference sample collected from Kimberly's mother, Elizabeth Murphy. The reference sample was subsequently sent to the UNT Center for Human Identification in January of 2005.
Over the next several months, DNA testing on these samples was performed by the forensic analysts working at the UNT Center. A potential match was made but statistics associated with the match were just not strong enough to render a high degree of certainty. Once again, Bobbie Spammer and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were called into action and approached the McClaskey family for additional samples which were later submitted to the UNT Center in 2006. In September of 2006, all the agencies associated with the case were informed of a positive match. "The remains were six million times more likely to be that of a child of Elizabeth Murphy," Fulton County sheriff Dan Daly said.
For 23 years, Elizabeth Murphy thought her daughter would return home. Mrs. Murphy stated , "I never gave up hope. If you give up that hope; where are you going to be? There is not a day I don't think of Kimberly. I say a prayer every night for Kimberly and for all of the other children that need to come home to their moms." Funding provided by the National Institute of Justice allowed the UNT Center to make the identification of Elizabeth's daughter, unfortunately ending her hope.
Kimberly McClaskey will never come home. But now, Elizabeth Murphy no longer has to wait in anticipation. Elizabeth has put her daughter to rest and can take the knowledge given to her through modern technology and begin the difficult task of building a life without her daughter.