Sadly this case did not end in joy like Elizabeth's. This case was heavily publicized here in Indiana.
Search ends: Bones ID'd as Jill Behrman's
Questions linger about death of IU student, 19
By Matthew Tully and Bruce Smith
March 14, 2003
After three years of unresolved suspicions and false leads, police on Thursday confirmed the worst -- they had identified the remains of 19-year-old Jill Behrman.
The discovery, however, provided few immediate answers to the mystery surrounding the Indiana University student's disappearance and death.
So far, investigators are at a loss to explain how Behrman's remains turned up 25 miles north of Bloomington's Salt Creek, which had been the focus of months of intense searches.
"The investigation starts afresh," Indiana State Police Sgt. Dave Bursten said at an evening news conference.
"Everything done to this point is still valid. At this point, everyone that was a suspect is still a suspect."
For Behrman's parents, the news came in a 2:30 p.m. meeting with authorities.
"The goal has always been to bring Jill home," her father, Eric Behrman, told an Indianapolis Star reporter as he walked his son's dog Thursday evening through the family's Bloomington neighborhood. "Now that's what we're able to do."
On Wednesday, an FBI official had called Eric Behrman to ask for the dental records of his daughter, who disappeared on May 31, 2000.
It was not the first time he had received such a request, but he knew something was up when he received a second call Thursday afternoon.
"There was a sense of urgency," he said.
The discovery ends the search phase of one of the most publicized missing-person cases in Indiana history.
It is a case that has attracted national attention, with concern for the young woman and her family stretching far beyond the Indiana college town.
Thursday's news left law enforcement officials re-energized, hoping the new evidence will help provide an answer to the most pressing question: What happened to Jill Behrman?
It's a question many have been asking since Behrman vanished.
Monroe County Prosecutor Carl Salzmann said the discovery will provide important forensic evidence.
"This is absolutely a significant event in our investigation," he said.
Police have identified a suspect in the case, Uriah J. Clouse, but he has not been charged in it.
Clouse is in the Monroe County Jail on an unrelated rape charge.
The discovery led Clouse's lawyer to once again declare his client's innocence.
"Tonight, my thoughts and prayers are certainly with the Behrmans," said John Plummer III. "But tomorrow I think we have to take another look at whether or not the truth has been told thus far."
The identification of the remains came as the Behrman family prepared to hold a memorial service on May 31, the three-year anniversary of her disappearance.
The latest break came as the case appeared to be going nowhere. Just last month, a frustrated Eric Behrman criticized the slow pace of the investigation.
"It's all back to the authorities," he said Thursday. "It's their ballgame. We'll continue to speak with investigators and prosecutors to find those responsible for Jill's death."
Police long have said they think Behrman was struck accidentally by a construction vehicle that spring morning while riding her bike on Harrell Road.
The focus turned to Salt Creek, where investigators thought Behrman's body was dumped after she was killed.
Everything changed on Sunday afternoon, when a turkey hunter and his son stumbled across a skull and some other bones in a Morgan County field.
The remains, found in a wooded area surrounded by farm fields and streams, triggered an investigation that led to Thursday's news.
Anthropologists from the University of Indianapolis sifted through the partially frozen ground, recovering the remains as well as personal effects, such as an earring.
The investigators found an arm and leg bones, and a jawbone that included teeth. Using X-rays, Dr. Ted Parks of the IU School of Dentistry identified the teeth as Behrman's.
Indiana State Police Detective Rick Lang said it will take some time for forensics experts to conduct DNA comparisons on the bones.
It could be two to three weeks before the remains are turned over to the Behrman family.
Investigators, meanwhile, will go back to the scene to search for more evidence.
Prosecutors from Monroe and Morgan counties said they will work together on the case.
Both Salzmann and Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega said any eventual prosecution will occur in the county more likely to obtain a conviction.
"I have no ego about this," said Sonnega.
Bloomington residents and IU students said they were relieved for the family. But some said true closure will come only when investigators determine who is responsible.
"At first I think everybody was more cautious and more scared," said Jessica Olry, a 22-year-old senior. "Now I just think that when they finally know what happened, it will bring closure for everyone."
Nowhere was the news felt more deeply than in the Bloomington home of the Behrman family.
From day one, family members have been at the forefront of the search, working hard to make sure the case was not forgotten.
After years of interviews, searches and memorials, the family huddled Thursday in the home of Behrman's parents.
They avoided the news conference, saying they needed privacy.
"Our deepest appreciation goes out to the hundreds and thousands of people in Bloomington, statewide and nationally who have joined us in this ordeal and kept Jill in their prayers," they said in a statement.
Star reporter Jason Thomas contributed to this report. Call Star reporter Matthew Tully at 1-317-327-4484.