Thirty-one year old case leaves unanswered questions, Box of bones is all that remains
A box of bones sits on a shelf at Texas Tech University. The scattered remnants of a teen whose life was taken too soon. A forensic artist used the skull to sketch a picture of what the girl is thought to look like. The sketch was circulated to other police agencies but this was one of many dead ends in the case.
By Debby Schamber – For the Record
A box of bones is all that remains of what is believed to be a teenage girl.
The bones were found by the land owner on New Year’s Day in 1984. He didn’t always go to that parcel of land located near Interstate 10 and FM1132. But, on this day he did. He found what remained of a young life taken too soon. The bones are believed to have been there at least a year. Time and the rugged outdoors had taken their toll. Some bones were missing while the remainder were left to bleach out in the sun.
Over the course of the next 15 years, investigators nationwide requested information from this case to compare it to other missing persons cases. However, it was always a dead end.
In search of answers, notorious killer Henry Lee Lucas was transported from his prison cell to Orange County. He was to point out an area where he said he had killed and dumped a white female in 1977. A search of the area did not turn up any remains. Lucas was notorious for lying about murders he committed and this case was ruled out as a crime he committed.
The box of bones was sent to Texas Tech for study and where DNA was extracted.
The bones are believed to be of a white female about 14-18 years old. She may have been about 4 feet 10 inches to 5 feet 2 inches tall. She also had brown hair, but her weight and eye color are unknown. She was wearing a white terry cloth short sleeved shirt. Indications are she had previously worn braces on her teeth, although none were present when she was discovered.
The cause of the girl’s death was ruled a possible decapitation.
A forensic artist used the outline of the skull to draw a picture of what the girl is expected to look like.
Over the years the case has been handled by various investigators. Each tried to find out the identity of the girl.
Most recently, Detective David Lampman, of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, acquired the case. He began delving into the small and somewhat empty file. For some unknown reason and with thousands of cases on the Doe Network he was drawn to what could possibly be the link between the two cases. The descriptions matched and the sketch looked eerily similar to the picture on the site. In addition, Lampman found an Arizona newspaper story online linking Mindi Chambers to the remains found in Orange County.
Mindi Chambers was 17 years old when she disappeared from Mesa, Arizona. She was 4-feet-11-inches tall and weighed 86 pounds. She had sandy brown hair, brown eyes and once wore braces on her teeth and were removed before her disappearance.
She left her home and walked her two half-sisters, Misti and Aleca to school. When her sisters returned home, Mindi was gone and the front door was open. There were no indications of a struggle. Mindi’s purse, identification and other belongings were left behind.
The last person known to have seen Mindi was a clerk at a local convenience store where she made a phone call. A witness reported he saw someone driving a green and tan-colored station wagon drive into the parking lot, grab Mindi, and pull her into the vehicle. Mindi was never heard from again, according to the Facebook page Justice for Mindi Chambers.
Mindi’s half-sister Misti Ann Chambers, attested to the fact, their father Allen, drove a green station wagon at the time.
This was not the first time tragedy would strike in the Chambers family. Mindi’s mother, Mary Xenos Chambers, was found dead in a bathtub in May 1968 in her New York apartment. Her husband, Allen, was suspected in her drowning death, since he had scratches on his arms as if someone had clawed at him while fighting for their life. However, he was never charged.
Mindi was two years old at the time and lived with Allen’s mother until her death. She later lived with her aunt while her father was serving time in prison. Upon his release in 1972, he took her back. Her aunt sadly watched her leave.
Three days before her 1982 disappearance, Mindi told the police Allen had been molesting her over the course of five years. Child Protective Services immediately placed her in the care of her stepmother who was divorcing Allen at the time.
No one reported Mindi missing until her aunt did in April 1995. Her relatives stated she had a history of running away and they thought she had simply walked out of her life to escape her problems. With no reports of Mindi missing, it appeared her father may have gotten away with ever being charged.
Allen, who was an over the road truck driver, died in December 1994 when his truck ran off the rainy, slick road and overturned in Virginia. This ended any chance of prosecution and closing a case.
If Mindi were alive today, she would be 51.
There was not any blood evidence kept after the death of Allen Chambers. DNA collected from an aunt was not a match. However, a researcher at Texas Tech is still reviewing the case, according to Lampman.
“These cases once you start working on them consume you,” Lampman said. “You think of every angle you can to make some head way.”
Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to call the Orange County Sheriff’s Office at 409-769-6321.