Last week a grieving mother finally got some closure in a horrific case that began two days after Christmas, six years ago in Colorado City.
Last week a grieving mother finally got some closure in a horrific case that began two days after Christmas, six years ago in Colorado City. Last week, Billie Jean Dunn announced that her daughter's remains had been released by the FBI and that she would finally be able to bring her home and have a proper burial and funeral for her beloved daughter, Hailey Darlene Dunn, who was taken from her at the age of only 13.
As I have written many times before, this case is one that weighs heavy on my mind because I was there in the beginning reporting on it and to this day, no one has been charged with the Hailey's murder and the case remains unsolved. And as I have said before, nothing sticks with me like the loss of a child and a mother's grief.
The family held a private funeral on Sunday, finally giving Hailey the proper burial she deserved.
Hailey vanished from her home in December of 2010. Her mother reported her missing Dec. 28, 2010. Shawn Adkins, then Billie's live-in boyfriend at the time, has been the only person identified as a suspect by Colorado City police. But he's never been charged or arrested for anything in connection with the case.
On March 16, 2013, Hailey's remains were found near Lake Thomas in Scurry County. The remains, accompanied by some clothing, were positively identified as belonging to Hailey on April 26, 2013. John Young, the attorney for Hailey’s mother, Billie, would be the one to confirm that information to me. The remains were identified through DNA. He would also be the attorney who convinced the FBI to return the remains to her mother Monday, Jan. 23.
On May 19, 2013 hundreds of mourners flocked to the junior high school gym in Colorado City to pay their last respects to Hailey, whose face had become a familiar site on billboards, posters and websites all over the state and nation.
Billie said last week that she planned on having a private family service for her daughter and that she plans on starting a scholarship in her name.
As always as a mother, my heart goes out to Billie – there is nothing as excruciatingly painful as losing a child.
And since there were some who made distasteful and hateful comments on the Hope for Hailey Facebook page, Stacie Campbell, an administrator on the page, was forced to point out that the release of Hailey’s remains by law enforcement, which included the FBI, Texas Rangers, DPS, the Scurry County Sheriff’s Office and others, bolstered the fact that Billie has not and never will be considered a suspect in her daughter’s murder.
When she made the announcement, she thanked everyone who has supported her throughout this terrible journey. She updated supporters following the service Sunday.
“Hailey was laid to rest surrounded by her family and loved ones, it was a lovely service, and an empty space in our family’s life has been partially refilled knowing Hailey is truly home. She lays under a beautiful tree in a garden. If butterflies were drawn to any area, this would be it.
We sent notes, pictures stuffed animals, memorial jewelry and David, Hailey’s brother, pinned our last Hope for Hailey ribbon to Hailey’s spray of flowers on her casket. So many tears, and yet we were also finally able to laugh and enjoy the precious memories of Hailey together with a lighter heart.
My God, you are so loved my precious baby. I love you Hailey and our fight for justice continues here while you fly with the angels…and butterflies.
Thank you for your prayers, flowers, and endless support. Our girl finally has peace.”
Even with this latest development, the case is still on ice and has not been solved. It is my hope that for her loved ones’ sake, and her mother’s sake, that law enforcement will continue to look at this case and get it solved.
As always, if you have a story to tell, want to visit or have some news, you can find me via email or phone or at the office where I’ll be just around the corner.
Celinda Hawkins is the managing editor of the Runnels County Register and can be reached at 325-365-3501 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.