Body in Mississippi cemetery may be missing Lake Charles woman

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (AP) — A woman buried in Hancock County in 1998 remains unidentified, but county Coroner Jim Faulk believes

he can change that if a judge agrees to sign an order to exhume her body.

Faulk asked Circuit Judge Lisa Dodson on Friday for an order to disinter the remains of the young woman, the Sun Herald reported.

The woman was hit by a car and killed on Interstate 10 on May 8, 1998.

Dodson delayed the hearing for a week, saying state law requires “sufficient cause” for an order to disturb remains.

Faulk believes the body is either Nelda Louis Hardwick or Faye Aline Self, both reported missing from Louisiana.

Faulk says he will seek for testimony from the state medical examiner and from Louisiana investigators searching for two missing


He also hopes to contact relatives of the two missing Louisiana women, whose descriptions resemble those of the woman hit

15 years ago. Both women left behind children.

Faulk said sonar equipment in Diamondhead is available to make sure the correct body is exhumed, and a human identification

lab in Texas can compile a DNA profile of the remains at no cost to the county.

Hardwick was 34 when she disappeared from her home in Lake Charles, La., on Oct. 14, 1993. She had put her children to bed,

and her boyfriend went to bed as well. He told authorities that when he woke the next morning, he found a note saying she

was running to a store and would be right back.

Faye Aline Self of Armistead, La., was

26 when she disappeared March 30, 1983, She left her baby with her

mother and was last

seen at the Wagon Wheel Bar & Restaurant with another woman

and two men. Self told friends at the bar she was going to get

her daughter because she had to be at work early the next day. She

never reached her mother’s house. Her car was found in

the bar parking lot.

Serial Killer Robert Charles Browne,

once a maintenance man at Self’s apartment in Red River Parish, later

claimed to have

killed Self and two other women from that region, as well as 47

other people around the nation from 1970 to 1995. He claimed

he dumped her body in a river, but it was never found.

The unidentified woman was about the same height, weight and age range as Hardwick and Self. The unknown woman had no teeth,

and Hardwick had worn dentures.

No one came forward to claim the body. She received a pauper’s burial in what is now St. Joseph’s Cemetery.

Most identifying evidence washed away in 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, Faulk said. But DNA samples are on file of Hardwick and

Self, and samples from the remains could identify the body.

Faulk believes it’s more likely to be Hardwick. He said he enlarged an autopsy picture and a picture of Hardwick, and the

facial lines and bone structure appear to be identical.

Faulk said he became interested in exhuming the body after being contacted by missing-persons groups.

“If it had been 15 years and my daughter hadn’t been found or identified, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night,” he said.