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Human remains found in crawl space identified as Mississippi veteran reported missing six years ago

By TERESA BLAKE | Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo | Published: March 30, 2021

TUPELO, Miss. (Tribune News Service) — Human remains found in the crawl space of a Fulton home in January have been identified by the Mississippi State Crime Lab.

In a press release, City of Fulton Police Chief Mitch Nabors and Itawamba County Coroner Sheila Summerford confirmed that the remains are that of Deborah Evans-Bell, who was reported missing six years ago. DNA results show the match to be 99.4% certain.

Authorities were called to Bell's former residence on East Hill Street after new homeowners had discovered a water leak and called a plumber. Investigators retrieved the remains and transported them to the Mississippi State Crime Lab Jan. 19.

Bell was reported missing on Feb. 8, 2015. She allegedly left home for a doctor's appointment but never returned, according to her husband. A military veteran in her mid-50s, Bell frequented several VA medical facilities.

Bell was well known around Fulton, even outside her neighborhood. She walked the downtown court square, visiting with local business owners and officials. The actual date of Bell's disappearance is unclear. Locals told law enforcement she hadn't been seen as far back as early January prior to the official report of her missing.

Multiple searches were conducted in and around the area of her home after her disappearance.

The cause and manner of death are yet to be determined pending the findings of the Mississippi Crime Lab.

teresa.blake@djournal.com

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