Search continues for Lexington girl missing since 1981

Donna Barnhill Press Release AP Photo

North Carolina-based Community United Effort Center for Missing Persons announced this week its latest endeavor to find more information about Lexington’s Donna Barnhill, who would now be 47 years old. Barnhill went missing in March 1981. The CUE Center for Missing Persons this week stated in a news release that a forensic artist has aided it with drawing an accurate photo of what Barnhill would have looked like just before becoming a missing child.Published: Friday, October 31, 2014 at 2:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 31, 2014 at 2:48 p.m.

Efforts remain under way to locate a woman who was reported missing almost 35 years ago when she was 13 years old.

“Donna Michelle Barnhill vanished over three decades ago leaving behind a mystery and a trail of unanswered questions for the rural community of Lexington, N.C.,” a news release from the CUE Center of Missing Persons stated. “Donna was 13 years old on the night she went missing, no alarms rang out for her and few searched for clues concerning her whereabouts. Years have dragged on, her parents and some family members have passed away and to date this child had not been found.”

The photo released in 1981 of Donna Barnhill was that of a school picture when she was between the age of 7-8 years old, the news release stated. In the mid 2000s, the CUE Center for Missing Persons located additional grainy snapshots, including an “eye-shut” photo. Barnhill’s family did not purchase the photo from the school because her eyes were closed, and the photo was of poor quality. Monica Caison, founder of the CUE Center for Missing Persons, told The Dispatch on Friday the forensic artist used these photos and family photos with Barnhill in them to come up with the latest photo.

Most recently, at the request of the nonprofit organization, a forensic artist from Canada, Diana Trepkov, has depicted a real-time look at what Barnhill would have looked like before becoming a missing child.

“We hope that investigators working aged cases across the nation will keep her image in their mind just in case there may be an unidentified child out there that may not be processed into the system set in place for missing persons today,” Caison said. “… If Donna was deceased upon her disappearance and later found, she could be one of the many Jane Doe cases in need of entry. We want to turn over every stone to make sure.”

Tools and technology used for missing individuals have developed leaps and bounds in the last 30-plus years, the news release stated. After Donna was reported missing by her mother, the investigation discovered Donna’s sibling, Anita Barnhill, died at the age of 2. According to the news release, her death was ruled an accident in 1966. A short time later facts of her death were discovered, and in 1999 a medical examiner revisited the child’s case, ruling her death as fatal child abuse — homicide; to date no charges have been brought forth.

“This information only supports that things can be missed and more discoveries could still in fact be dormant in a file, maybe in another county or even another state,” Caison said.


Friday’s vigil remembers missing people, including Donna Barnhill

Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013 a

North Carolina-based Community United Effort Center for Missing Persons will hold a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. Friday at Central Automotive at 808 N. Main St.

The center is stopping in Lexington as part of its “On the Road to Remember Tour.” For the 10th year, volunteers for the CUE Center for Missing Persons will travel across the United States to raise awareness of missing children and adults. The team will travel through North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Virginia and attend numerous pre-planned rally stops hosted by various officials and missing person families and friends. The public is invited to attend.

“After so many years, these cases fade from the public’s radar, but for the families and friends of a missing person, the nightmare continues — every minute of every day their loved one is absent,” said CUE founder Monica Caison, who is leading the caravan of volunteers.

Lexington’s vigil is geared toward Donna Barnhill. Barnhill of Lexington was 13 years old when she went missing in March of 1981.

The tour, which ends Oct. 12, is slated to promote 102 missing people and six unsolved homicide cases.