Vernon Parish Sherif Sam Craft’s new cold case investigative team is seeking help solving the 1980 murder of a Sandy Hill-area teenager as well as other unsolved homicides in the parish.

The recently formed unit is in the process of examining cold homicide cases. The first appeal for public assistance is regarding the April 1980 death of Mary Darlene Howard, 15.

The girl was reported missing April 16 from Mike’s Trailer Park, where she was last seen on the morning of April 15 by her mother at their residence.

Almost two weeks later, on April 27, Mary’s body was located in a wooded area on West Boundary Road in the Sandy Hill area.

Detectives Rhonda Jordan and Jerry Twyman are seeking any information that people might have regarding the case. They can be reached at 337-238-7248.

The detectives are also attempting to locate and talk to family members of Mary Darlene.

“We would greatly appreciate the public’s assistance as we attempt to resolve these cases for both the victims and their families,” said Sheriff Craft. The objective in reopening cold cases is the arrest and prosecution of the person or persons responsible for the crimes.

Craft said profiles of additional cold cases will be forthcoming in the near future.

He said investigators will be reviewing case documentation, evidentiary times, and re-interviewing witnesses as well as suspects in the cases.

Craft asked citizens to take the time to read the provided case information in this and future releases and to review photographs of each victim.

Information regarding the killing of Mary Darlene did not include any data regarding cause of death.

The pursuit of cold cases by law enforcement agencies in recent years has proved more successful as improvements in the forensic science field, including the use of DNA data bases, has opened investigative doors in some cases. In some cases, such science has also resulted in wrongly convicted or suspected persons being exonerated.