Teala Thompson found deceased

Earlier this year I added the new/old case of Teala Thompson, a light-skinned, gray-eyed biracial thirteen-year-old who disappeared from Pittsburgh nearly fifty years ago on September 5, 1967. Well, she’s been found: a body that turned up in a Salem Township, Pennsylvania landfill just two weeks after Teala disappeared has been identified as the missing girl.

This case should have been solved a long time ago. I mean, she was found not too long after she disappeared and less than 40 miles away, and they got her fingerprints and were able to chart her teeth. They were off on the age, but only slightly — they thought the dead girl was between fourteen and sixteen, when Teala was thirteen years and ten months.

I don’t really know what happened here and neither, according to the article I linked to, does anyone else:

[Teala’s younger sister] Mary Thompson said some family members believe that police had contacted [their mother] Shirley Thompson once early on in the investigation and had asked her to view a photo of the unidentified remains but that Shirley Thompson had declined. “I think it was just too hard for her. I don’t think she wanted to admit that Teala wasn’t coming home,” Mary Thompson said.

There’s no evidence in the police record that indicates the Thompson family was contacted by police nor that the Thompson family had reported Teala missing.

Perhaps Shirley really did turn down a chance to identify the body. She’s dead now so we can’t ask her. It would explain why she told Mary that Teala had been murdered in Greensburg (which is, I believe, where the landfill was). It’s also entirely on the cards that the police either wouldn’t take a missing persons report for a teen girl — a child of that age would have been written off as a runaway, and probably the fact that she was non-white wouldn’t have helped matters — or that they did take a report but the records were lost later on.

In any case, I’m afraid there may be no more answers to be found. Whoever killed Teala could be dead now, and even if he/she isn’t, building a case after all this time is well nigh impossible.

“I can’t say I remember much about what happened,” her sister Mary says. She was four when Teala disappeared. She adds: “What I remember was that Teala was beautiful and she was loved.”

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5 thoughts on “Teala Thompson found deceased

  1. Peter Henderson Jr. August 6, 2016 / 10:07 am


    The body was found in Salem Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, not Greensburg.

    Teala Patricia Thompson, 13, an 8th grade student was last seen at Westinghouse High School, located at 1101 North Murtland Street, in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania on Tuesday September 5, 1967.

    She was never seen or heard from again. It was the 60’s and Teala’s case received very little publicity. (it was reported in the press, however)

    At the time police said they did not believe foul play was involved and said they had information that Teala was not far from Westinghouse High School, in the “Homewood- Bruston” area of Pittsburgh.

    The fact that the family had been in trouble with the law in the past did not help the situation. We are speaking about a black family in Pittsburgh, in the late 60’s, and law enforcement was frequently seen as the enemy. ( The Newark, New Jersey riots had taken place a few months earlier }

    I think Shirley may have been asked to identify her child but because of personal or cultural/ sociological reasons did not want to do so.


  2. Evie August 6, 2016 / 11:12 am

    I hate to say it but the surviving daughter is not casting her mother in the most innocent light.

  3. D. M. August 7, 2016 / 10:03 am

    Hempfield is very close to where I live, and almost the same as Greensburg… but now. Maybe not back then. I can’t say, for sure.

  4. Fires Waiting To Burn August 8, 2016 / 1:41 pm

    There was a newborn deceased found a month before Teala’s body, and the newborn was buried in the same casket as Teala. Did they ever do DNA to see if the newborn was Teala’s, and why was the newborn buried with her, when it was found a month earlier?

    • Meaghan August 8, 2016 / 5:08 pm

      As far as I know, they haven’t done any DNA testing to connect them. I would guess they were buried together to save money. It’s easy to tuck a newborn’s corpse into someone else’s coffin, much easier than digging a whole new grave.

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