Alabama police, with the help of DNA technology, were finally able to identify the remains of a young girl they found buried in a trailer park in 2012 — and by doing so, also put her parents behind bars.
The girl, known as “Baby Jane Doe” for nearly 11 years, has been identified as Amore Joveah Wiggins, Opelika police announced Thursday.
Police tracked down her father, Lamar Vickerstaff Jr., 50, in Jacksonville Florida and charged him with felony murder Tuesday. Vickerstaff and Amore’s stepmother, Ruth Vickerstaff — who both allegedly denied knowing Amore — were charged with failure to report a missing child.
Amore’s biological mother, Sherry Wiggins, who did not have custody of the girl, had spent the last 11 years looking for her daughter.
Amore’s skull and bones were found Jan. 28 2012 buried in a trailer park in Opelika, a city roughly 60 miles east of Montgomery. A pink child’s shirt and a small bundle of curly hair were also found nearby.
An autopsy found that the girl had suffered more than 15 fractures across her body in various stages of healing. Amore was blind in her left eye due to a fracture in her eye socket and had been malnourished at the time of her death, Police Chief Shane Healey said.
“Since that day, Baby Jane has been a part of our OPD family,” Healy said, fighting back tears during a press conference.
Police made two efforts over the years to find Amore’s identity using DNA technology, but hit walls due to the condition of her remains. Officers at the time only knew that she was a black girl between the ages of four and seven.
Finally, a development in DNA technology helped investigators identify Navy soldier Lamar Vickerstaff, who grew up in Opelika, as the girl’s biological father.
In October 2022, officers visited Vickerstaff where he was stationed in Jacksonville, but he allegedly did not provide any information on Baby Jane’s identity, Healey said. His wife Ruth, who has been married to Vickerstaff since 2006 — the year Amore was born — said she did not know Vickerstaff’s daughter.
But Sherry Wiggins, Amore’s biological mother, gave police documented proof that Vickerstaff was not only Amore’s father, but that he and Ruth had been given full custody of the girl in 2009.
Wiggins, who was no longer allowed to visit her daughter, had been loyally paying the Vickerstaff’s child support since 2009. Wiggins told police she never heard about Opelika’s Baby Jane Doe and has been fighting the courts to win back the right to see Amore.
“She’s been looking for her ever since,” Healy said.
The Vickerstaff’s never enrolled Amore in schools or took her to doctor’s visits in any of the various states they lived in over the years, but never reported the girl missing, police allege.
Despite finally finding Amore’s identity, Opelika police do not feel that they have fully brought justice to the young girl.
“Amore suffered a tremendous, horrible death,” Capt. Johnathan Clifton said. “She had a tragic end of her life, and we need the public’s help to come forward and help us make sure we get justice for this job.”