Lifestyle & Human Interest

Remains of Teen Girl Found Years Ago in Texas Finally Identified, Search for Murderer Is On


The mystery of 16-year-old Sylvia Nicole Smith’s disappearance has perplexed family and friends since Valentine’s Day 2000. For over twenty years, they had no idea where she’d gone or what her status was, but finally, this June, some closure has been provided.

Four days after the young teen went missing, her mother filed a runaway report with the Midland Police Department in Texas.

According to a post by the Midland Crime Stoppers, the girl worked at the Midland Golden Corral and attended Lee High School before disappearing.

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But no news turned up. She was simply gone — until 13 years later when workers surveying near an oilfield well site south of Midland discovered partial human remains.

“On August 1, 2013, the unidentified human remains were discovered near an oilfield location in Midland County approximately 10 miles south of Interstate 20 near FM 1213,” the post by Midland Crime Stoppers stated.

The area was thoroughly searched by Texas Rangers, DPS Aircraft and the Midland County Sheriff’s Office for more evidence, which was then taken to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification for a full report.

Analysis of the remains indicated that the victim had been female, between 14 to 21 years old, 59 to 67 inches tall and likely the victim of homicide. At first, analysis also led authorities to believe the victim was either white or Hispanic — which threw them off the trail for Smith for seven years.

Samples were submitted to Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), but then the trail went silent for years. In 2020, renewed efforts between the Texas Rangers and Midland County District Attorney’s Office resulted in DNA samples being sent to two more labs for more information.

This time, with the advancements that have been made, analysis revealed a far more detailed set of information, including clarifying that the victim was actually black. It also indicated eye color, hair color and skin tone of the victim.

“A genetic genealogist who examined the DNA assisted with a match which led to a distant relative,” a release from the Texas Department of Public Safety read. “Rangers have interviewed numerous potential relatives to gather family information, and in May 2022, information led to the victim’s mother in the Midland area.

“In speaking with the mother, she stated one of her daughters — Sylvia Nicole Smith — had been missing since 2000.”

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“Texas Rangers collected DNA samples from Smith’s family for analysis, and on June 9, 2022, the University of North Texas verified that the remains of the person found on Aug. 1, 2013, was indeed Sylvia Nicole Smith.”

Not the news the family was hoping for, and not a closed case yet, but certainly a form of closure as to where Smith went. Now, authorities are focusing on finding her murderer.

“The Rangers are now conducting a homicide investigation into her death, and ask anyone with information into her disappearance or homicide to come forward with information,” the release continued.

Texas Rangers assure potential tipsters that their identity will be kept anonymous but that if they are the “first person to call with information that leads to an arrest,” they could receive up to $2,500, according to the Midland Crime Stoppers post on Facebook.

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