Police in the small town of Spring Hope, NC, have made an arrest in a 15-year-old cold case thanks to an unexpected break. These days, such breaks often stem from DNA ancestry websites and the like, but this time, the break came in the form of an old-fashioned tip. Still, there was a modern twist: The tip didn't go to police, it went to a Facebook page dedicated to local crime operated by a woman who prefers to remain anonymous. Details:
- The arrest: Police have charged Kimberly Hancock, 49, with killing 29-year-old Deborah Deans in 2004, reports WNCT. Deans lived with Hancock at the time, and she was also Hancock's sister-in-law. Authorities, acting on a tip, dug up the remains of a woman believed to be Deans from behind Hancock's house last week.
- The tip: A still-anonymous person emailed the Fighting Crime News and Who's Wanted Facebook page with what police and the page's creator say was detailed information about where Deans' body could be found and how it was buried, per WRAL. "I can't say what it actually said," the local woman behind the page tells WTVD. "But it was pretty in-depth."
- The page: The Facebook page has been around about seven years, and it posts news about local crimes, notes the Washington Post. On Oct. 20, the creator posted the old missing-persons flier on Deans—something she does fairly regularly—and it quickly generated the tip. The woman behind the page passed the email onto the Nash County Sheriff's Office, and authorities were soon digging behind Hancock's house.
- Her rationale: The woman who created the page sees herself as a "liaison" between citizens and the police. "I found out a lot of people don't like talking to law enforcement, so for a lot of people they're just scared," she tells the ABC station. "It makes me feel good that I can help close a lot of these cases."
- Last seen: Police haven't speculated about a motive. Hancock told police in 2004 that she and Deans argued, then Deans called someone to pick her up. Hancock said she never returned. Hancock would later be charged with forgery after cashing child-support checks made out to Deans, per WNCT, though she apparently wasn't seen as a suspect in Deans' disappearance. The victim had four children; two, including an infant, went into foster care, and her mother took in the other two.
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