Human remains found outside Talladega Superspeedway in 2012 identified as missing Georgia woman

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LINCOLN, Ala. (WIAT) — Human remains that were found in Lincoln nearly a decade ago have now been identified as belonging to a woman from Georgia who reportedly went missing around the same time.

In a news release from the Lincoln Police Department, remains that police found outside an abandoned building in Talladega County on May 5, 2012 were recently identified as being those of 67-year-old Jean Turner Ponders, of Roswell, Georgia. According to police, Ponders’ cause of death was determined to have been from lung cancer by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.

The case began in 2012 when a deputy with the Talladega County Sheriff’s Office and a reserve officer working at the Talladega Superspeedway during race week located human remains behind an abandoned residence on Allred Road in Lincoln. At the time, Ponders’ remains couldn’t be identified due to them being too decomposed to collect fingerprint evidence. In August 2012, Ponders’ remains were entered into NCIC and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, but her description did not match any local missing persons cases and the case went cold.

“If not for considerable assistance from Othram, Inc. located in Texas, which is a forensic sequencing laboratory for law enforcement and a forensic genetic genealogist named Carla Davis, Lincoln Police Department would still have a cold case,” the release stated. “Because of all this assistance and hundreds of investigative hours put in by Lincoln Police investigators over the years, Ms. Ponders has her identity back.”

Ponders’ case remains open and police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding her ending up in Alabama. A detective with the Roswell Police Department confirmed they had been made aware of Ponders’ identification, but could not comment on it due to it remaining an active investigation.

Anyone with information on Ponders and the circumstances leading to her remains being left in Lincoln are encouraged to call Capt. Shannon Hallmark with the LPD at 205-763-4064 or Investigator Demarco Willis at 205-763-4070.

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