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In 1981, Florida detectives executed a search warrant to the home of Billy Mansfield Jr., a convicted child molester, rapist and a serial killer. Along with his father and younger brother, Mansfield raped women, killed and dismembered them. 

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After his arrest on murder charges, a tip led police to Mansfield’s backyard in the home, neighbors dubbed the ‘The House of Horror.’ Big excavators dug up four skeleton remains, all females. Two were quickly identified. But the other two remained ‘Jane Doe’ for years. Four decades, to be exact. 

And for forty years, with no fresh leads and witnesses, the case of the Jane Does killed by Mansfield, stalled. Over the years, detectives took a shot at cracking the case by sending evidence to be tested by various labs. It wasn’t until late 2020, DNA from one of the Jane Doe gave Florida officials hope that they might get a lucky break. 

Theresa Caroline Fillingim was revealed to be the girl discovered buried in Mansfield’s backyard in 1981. She was a few weeks away from turning seventeen when she vanished. Her sister, Margot Johns, reported her little sister missing, and she waited forty years to find out what happened to her sibling. 

At a press conference, the sheriff’s department said in a statement: “Individual predictions were made for the victim’s ancestry, eye color, hair color, skin color, freckling and face shape,” the sheriff’s office stated. “Parabon’s research developed a profile that was utilized in the identification of the victim in this case.”

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Bill Mansfield confessed to killing and burying the bodies in his backyard. To detectives, he said — he liked the bodies near to him. During his confession, Mansfield refused to identify the Jane Does. 

Margot Johns spoke to WFLA, the local news station about her feelings after learning Theresa was one of Mansfield’s victims.

“It gives me peace because I know I didn’t lose her. That she was taken,” said sister Margot Johns. “Now I can stop looking.”

Bill Mansfield is serving a life sentence in a California prison.

Florida officials are asking the public for assistance. Anyone with information pertinent to the investigation should contact officials at 1-800-873-8477.

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By Jolene Grace

Jolene Grace was a journalist for ten years, interning for CBS evening news, working as a beat report for Oklahoma Public radio, and eventually transitioning into managing digital content for a radio corporation. Currently, she writes crime fiction full time and blogs for the Crime Room. Jolene is fortunate enough to be able to tell the stories of those who no longer can. She’s passionate to write about cold cases being solved. You can read her blogs on thecrimeroom.com or listen to The Crime Room Podcast wherever in the world you happened to be. Let’s Talk Crime.

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