Texas: An American mum presumed dead by her family for more than 40 years has been found alive and well living under a different name.
Lula Ann Gillespie-Miller disappeared in 1974 after deciding she was too young to be a mother and signing over her three children to her parents.
The family never heard from her again other than a letter she sent several months later, which had a post mark from Richmond, Indiana.
But in January 2014 Indiana State Police Detective Sergeant Scott Jarvis took up the case after being contacted by Gillespie-Miller’s family through America’s Doe Network website, which assists families with missing persons investigations
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The veteran cop discovered a case of a deceased unidentified woman, buried in an unmarked grave, found in 1975.
A search warrant was obtained in December 2014, and a body was exhumed for DNA analysis.
The sample was matched to Gillespie-Miller’s biological daughter, Tammy Miller, for comparison but was found to have no link.
But as he continued looking he began concentrating his efforts upon one missing woman.
“He began to investigate the trail of a woman with similarities to Lula Gillespie-Miller, who had lived in Tennessee in the 1980s, then later in Texas, ”police said.
“Further investigation led Jarvis to a woman living in a small town in south Texas since the 1990s, possibly still living under an alias.”
Jarvis contacted Texas Rangers in the area and had them visit the woman’s home.
“It is believed that she had at times lived under an alias, but also along the way had been married and remarried,” Indiana State Police Sergeant John Bowlin.
When questioned she admitted her name was actually Lula Gillespie-Miller, now 69 years old, and said she is originally from Laurel, Indiana.
Although she refused to say why she left she said she was prepared to talk to her daughter and gave police permission to give her contact information to Tammy.
“We sat for five minutes with our jaw dropped,” Tammy said.
“It’s like something out of a movie.
“You think 40 years, you haven’t heard anything by now, the chances are slim.
“You sit and you analyse the picture. Do I have her eyes? Do I have her cheekbones? Do I look like her at all?”
Gillespie-Miller told police she “felt she was too young to be a mother at the time”.
Police said she didn’t commit a crime by leaving her home in 1974, and still reserves the right to remain anonymous.