OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – A little girl named Amore Wiggins is Opelika’s Baby Jane Doe, according to police. Amore means love and affection, a symbolic revelation in a decade-old cold case where investigators stayed determined to discover who she was, what happened to her, and deliver justice.
Take a moment to say her name out loud. Amore Wiggins.
Opelika Police confirm the arrest of Amore’s biological father, 50-year-old Lamar Vickerstaff, and his wife 53-year-old Ruth Vickerstaff by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in Florida. Opelika Police confirm Lamar Vickerstaff serves with the United States Navy. The couple was arrested Tuesday, January 17th, and is being held on a Fugitive Warrant of Extradition. Investigators confirm the couple is expected to face charges related to Amore’s death in Opelika, Alabama. Details and exact charges they face will be released at Thursday’s press conference, including extradition procedures.
“In October of 2022, Jane Doe’s father was identified as 50-year-old Lamar Vickerstaff Jr. Mr. Vickerstaff was born and raised in Opelika, Ala. before enlisting in the U.S. Navy. During his lengthy Navy career, he resided in Norfolk, Va., Honolulu, Hawaii and Jacksonville, Fla. In December of 2022, Opelika Detectives traveled to the Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Fla. where Mr. Vickerstaff is currently stationed, to notify him of his daughter’s death. During the meeting Mr. Vickerstaff did not provide investigators with any information on the identity of Jane Doe. Detectives then met with Mr. Vickerstaff’s wife, Ruth Vickerstaff. Mrs. Vickerstaff, who has been married to Lamar since May of 2006, advised detectives she did not know his daughter or who may be the mother of Jane Doe,” said Chief Shane Healey.
In December of 2022, Detectives met with 37-year-old Sherry Wiggins who confirmed she was the biological mother of Jane Doe. Ms. Wiggins is a native of Norfolk, Va. and stated she gave birth to a baby girl named Amore Joveah Wiggins in January of 2006. Ms. Wiggins provided documentation showing that Lamar and Ruth Vickerstaff obtained legal and physical custody of her daughter in 2009, at which time her visitation with Amore was suspended. Ms. Wiggins also provided documents indicating that she has continuously paid child support to Lamar Vickerstaff since 2009, said police.
“Detectives reached out to the school boards and pediatric clinics in several states where Lamar and Ruth Vickerstaff resided and determined that Amore was never enrolled in school nor was, she reported as a missing person. With this information, Opelika detectives met with the Lee County District Attorney’s Office to determine charges related to the death of Amore Wiggins,” said Chief Healey.
Detectives say on January 17, 2023, Lamar and Ruth Vickerstaff were arrested in Jacksonville, Fla. Lamar Vickerstaff was charged with Felony Murder and Ruth was arrested for Failure to Report a Missing Child. They are currently being held at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office pending extradition to Lee County, Ala.
WRBL is told recent advancements in familial DNA helped investigators identify Amore. Opelika police partnered with Othram Inc. and used a technique called “Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing” to build a DNA profile from the forensic evidence. Othram developed this technique and has applied it to many cases.
“This little girl suffered unspeakable abuse before she was murdered and justice was delayed because we didn’t know who she was. It means the world to us that we were able to assist law enforcement in restoring her name and seeking justice for her,” shared Kristen Mittelman, Chief Development Officer, Othram Inc.
Police say once they were able to locate Amore’s mother, she was vital in their search for answers in the case. Police say the mother had been trying to reconnect with Amore for several years after Vickerstaff gained custody. Police say her mother is not from Alabama and continued making regular child support payments to Vickerstaff, not knowing the little girl was Opelika’s unidentified Baby Jane Doe.
4,009 days ago the child’s skull and other remains were unearthed near a mobile home off Hurst Street. On a cold Saturday, January 28th, 2012, investigators arrived on the scene and Opelika’s Baby Jane Doe Case was born. From that day forward investigators began an exhaustive quest. Baby Jane Doe quickly became Opelika’s daughter and a top priority for police.
“It’s a case that sticks with you, and what we want more than anything is to put a name with that face,” shared Opelika’s Shane Healey. “She was badly abused and lived a tough life, and there is nothing fair about what she had to go through at all. We just hope we can give her a small amount of justice if we can just find out her name.”
When the remains were recovered forensic testing determined them to be those of a young Black girl. A long-sleeved pink shirt with heart buttons and ruffles was found near her body, along with her hair. Forensics revealed the child’s left eye was scarred and blind. Police believe she was severely abused and neglected before her murder.
Shortly after her body was found, police released a clay facial reconstruction of what she may have looked like before she was killed. The reconstruction prompted members of the Greater Peace Community Church in Opelika to come forward, claiming they had seen the child before but didn’t know her name or her family. Police say they sifted through Sunday school photos taken during the summer of 2011 and came across some that resembled the little girl found in the woods. The photos were released to the public, but no new information was generated.
Wednesday, the mobile home and woods where the remains of Baby Jane Doe were located were once again surrounded by yellow crime scene tape. Opelika police confirmed they were serving a search warrant at the property along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the Baby Jane Doe Case. Police confirmed Vickerstaff has friends and family who lived in the area. Agents were seen standing on the mobile home’s front porch and handling what appeared to be evidence bags. The area around the residence, along with the front and back yard were blocked off with tape.
The investigation recently led detectives to outside Alabama and other states Baby Jane Doe may have lived. Families in Norfolk and Chesapeake, Virginia, and Northampton, North Carolina are asked to look at reconstruction images, and pictures of a little girl at Greater Peace Church in Opelika taken in 2011. The girl in the photos is believed to be Jane Doe when she was alive.
Investigators say the case remains ongoing as they continue to learn more about Amore and her time with her father and his wife. If you have any information that may help investigators please contact Opelika Police Department at (334) 705-5260 or the Secret Witness Hotline at (334) 745-8665. Tips can also be submitted through the Opelika Police Mobile App. You can remain anonymous.