Missing Elk City woman finally identified
Saturday, February 12th 2005, 2:20 pm
News On 6
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Family members finally know where Melva Lynn Hudgens is, but the circumstances surrounding her death remain a mystery.
DNA results revealed this week that the remains of an unidentified woman buried in Denton County, Texas, were those of Hudgens, who had been missing from Elk City since 1978.
Denton County officials exhumed the body from an unmarked grave in Denton in November and the medical examiner's office conducted DNA testing using samples from relatives.
Hudgens' mother, Florella Bashaw, said she hoped the DNA results would come back negative because that might mean her daughter was alive.
``I can't understand why would somebody do that,'' Bashaw said. ``I want to see them punished.''
Don Britt, Denton County Sheriff's Department investigator, met with Bashaw on Wednesday to give her the news and to get the names of people who knew Hudgens.
``We've actually got a couple of stories about how Melva left Elk City. We're still not sure how she got here,'' Britt said.
It's believed Hudgens and two friends were walking along State Highway 66 in Elk City one afternoon after having car trouble when a car with Missouri license plates stopped and two white males offered them a ride. Hudgens accepted, but her friends didn't, investigators said.
``We don't know if it was a kidnapping originally but we do think she was killed here,'' Britt said.
Robin Allen, Hudgens' sister, has said that Hudgens visited her at school in Tipton before leaving in 1978. Allen said Hudgens told her she was in love with one of two men she was with and they were getting married.
Allen said Hudgens may have gone to Texas to see their older sister, Bonnie, who was in college in Abilene.
Bonnie Smith, who died in 1996, said Hudgens called her in 1978 and said she wanted to see her, but Hudgens never made it.
Hudgens' remains were found in a creek near a blacktop road between Denton and Sanger on April 10, 1978. Law enforcement officers couldn't identify the woman buried in a pauper's grave.
Britt began working on the old case files about four years ago. When Bashaw asked for help finding her daughter again last year, Beckham County Sheriff Scott Jay reopened the case.
The department posted information and a photo of Hudgens on the Web site www.doenetwork.us, which a Denton County investigator found and asked Britt to take a look.
That's when investigators began to suspect that Jane Doe and Hudgens were the same person.
Deputies will assist Denton County with the murder investigation, Jay said.
Denton County investigators have some physical evidence from the scene that should help the case, Britt said.
Meanwhile, Bashaw said she is planning a memorial service.
``The important thing is we've got her identified and she can go home,'' Britt said.