Human remains found by workers near a Texas oilfield wellsite in 2013 have been identified as 16-year-old Sylvia Nicole Smith who has been missing for over 22 years.
A homicide investigation is now underway for the remains that were found on Aug. 1, 2013, in Midland County near South County Road 1160 and FM 1213. According to Texas DPS, workers surveying near an oilfield wellsite discovered the partial remains. The Texas Rangers, DPS Aircraft and the Midland County Sheriff’s Office then searched the area for further evidence.
"The remains were sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification, where an anthropology report was completed, and DNA was extracted," said DPS. "The results revealed the victim was a female between the ages of 14-21 who was likely the victim of a homicide."
The DNA results were put into the Combined DNA Index System, but after no results came back the Rangers in 2020 looked for additional means to identify the remains.
This ultimately led them to a lab that provided advanced DNA analysis to "determine what the victim looked like."
"The results revealed the victim was of African-American descent, and identified eye color, hair color and skin tone," said DPS. "A genetic genealogist who examined the DNA assisted with a match which led to a distant relative."
The Texas Rangers interviewed potential relatives and in May were led to the victim's mother in Midland.
"In speaking with the mother, she stated one of her daughters — Sylvia Nicole Smith — had been missing since 2000," said Texas DPS. "Her mother last saw her 16-year-old daughter on Feb. 14, 2000. Smith’s mother filed a runaway report with the Midland Police Department on Feb. 18, 2000."
DNA samples verified that the remains matched that of Sylvia Nicole Smith.
"The Rangers are now conducting a homicide investigation into her death, and ask anyone with information into her disappearance or homicide to come forward with information," said DPS.