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60 years later, woman's death remains a mystery

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - It has just over 60 years since a southeast Missouri woman disappeared and died, a mystery that police concede will likely never be solved.

Bonnie Huffman of Delta, Missouri, was last seen on July 3, 1954. She was 20 at the time. Her car was found a day later, a cap pistol on the ground nearby.

A couple found Huffman's body in a ditch, her neck broken and her jaw dislocated, the Southeast Missourian reported. There was evidence of a possible sexual assault, though the decomposing body made autopsy results inconclusive.

"Someone got away with murder," Huffman's niece, Wanda Ross, said. "Somebody knows what happened. It's a shame no one ever came forward all those years."

Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Capt. David James said a few generic clues still come in, but there is no longer any physical evidence, and most potential witnesses are likely dead.

It was certainly a hot case at the time of the crime. Police administered about 100 polygraph tests to possible suspects. Police questioned anybody who seemed to have an unusual sexual appetite. None were linked to the crime.

Just 10 years ago, another lead surfaced when Cape Girardeau police received a letter from someone in Florida who reported seeing a car stopped on a curve near Delta - the same spot where Huffman's body was found.

The letter's writer stopped to see if help was needed, the letter read.

Two men "came in a hurry and hollering, 'What the hell are you doing? Get the hell ... out. Then I saw someone in the ditch, hollering," the letter stated.

One of the men tried to pull the writer out of the car, the letter said. The writer got away. Police have been unable to track down who wrote the letter.

Relatives know the odds are long, but they'd like closure.

"I just want to know why things are not as they should have been," Ross said.

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