JACKSONVILLE, FL-- It was Easter Sunday 1984 when Alice Herndon got the call.
"I call the call that she was missing,' she said.
Three weeks later, police would find her niece, 17-year-old Tina Louise Lovett dead in a wooded area; her body badly decomposed.
"We had the funeral here and we thought we had a body in the casket," said Herndon.
It has been 33 years since her death and closed casket funeral. Now, the family is learning that it is not over.
"Now they're informing us we only had legs and arms," she said.
They received a letter from the District IV Medical Examiner's office. It told them to call about Lovett's
skull and upper body. The remains were in its possession and a decision had to be made.
"I was shocked when I heard that," said Herndon.
Herndon and her sister Linda Tierney say time had soothe the pain of their loss, until now.
"Thirty-three years later they make us go through it all over again," said Herndon.
Now the pain is back. It is 1984 all over again.
"It is all coming back," said Linda Tierney, " why did they wait 33 years to contact my sister about these remains? It should not have taken so long."
The family went to the medical examiner's office looking for answers. The Forensics Investigations Manager was apologetic, but could not give them the answers they wanted.
The following timeline was provided by Attorney Kenneth Haney. His wife is an anthropologist at Florida Gulf Coast University and she works with the District 20 ME office:
In 1984 the decision was made to send the cranium and upper body skeleton to the CA Pound Human Identification Lab at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The collection of her remains stayed there until 2006.
It was then sent to the District 20 Medical Examiners, in Naples, and kept in a secured room.
In 2016 the collection was returned to the District Four Medical Examiner's office in Jacksonville.
On July 19, 2017, Tina Louise Lovett's mother and aunts were notified.
"I haven't had a good day's peace since this happened," said Tierney.
The family wants the Medical Examiner to give them closure to this ugly chapter of their lives. The M.E. was not available but plans to contact as soon as she returns from vacation.
"I want them to open this grave, bring the casket up and place her body parts with the parts they gave us and close it back up," said Herndon.
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