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New Orleans police think killing was part of truck-stop series

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ DNA from a body found in New Orleans last Valentine's Day shows she was half American Indian _ yet another possible link to a series of murders of truck-stop prostitutes, says the detective investigating the case.

Detective Armando Asaro now has a forensic reconstruction of the woman's face, and is hoping that someone in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Indiana or Mississippi _ states where the bodies of about 10 prostitutes have been dumped near highways _ might recognize her.

Forensic anthropologist Mary Manhein created a clay model from the woman's skull in her FACES _ short for Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services _ lab at Louisiana State University. Then she photographed the model and used a computer to add details such as short hair and four earrings _ one in the right earlobe, two in the left earlobe and a fourth at the top of the left ear.

Manhein's lab also confirmed that the woman was half white, half American Indian, Asaro said Sunday. Police have said the others were white or American Indian.

Oklahoma investigators said in August that they did not think the woman's death was linked to the series of killings there. The women were either strangled or killed by a blow to the head, and their bodies were usually thrown to the side of a major roadway. Many had last been seen at truck stops.

The woman left in New Orleans was bludgeoned, Asaro said. Her body was left in a grassy lot about a block from the truckers' entrance to the Port of New Orleans.

It was found after an anonymous man called 911 on Valentine's Day. She had probably been dead about a week and a half, Asaro said.

Nobody has come forward in New Orleans to identify her, even after the reconstruction was released, he said.

Investigators have received dozens of possible leads and have held two meetings _ one in February and one in July _ to compare notes. No arrests have been made.
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