Washed away by the elements, the ink on a suitcase tag containing a woman’s remains were unreadable to Gwinnett County Police for years. But an investigator using a special camera last month was able to crack the case.
Nearly three years after the initial discovery, police identified the woman’s remains as Jessica Ashley Manchini, 29. Manchini’s remains were found in a suitcase July 29, 2016, along the side of Interstate 985 north of Buford Drive.
A Georgia Department of Transportation worker discovered the skull and bones, when he walked “into the woods to relieve himself,” police said in a report.
Police discovered faded blue ink on a suitcase tag, but several lighting tests at the time were unable to pick up information.
The crime scene investigator said last week he used a UV/IR camera “in combination with a variety of alternate light sources, which captures invisible wavelengths.”
UV and IR stand for ultraviolet and infrared, which are wavelengths respectively shorter and longer than what is visible to the naked eye.
“This process was able to capture the remnants of the ink, even though it had been washed away from outdoor elements,” according to the crime scene investigator.
That led them to Jessica Ashley Manchini, 29, a missing woman originally from Pennsylvania who spent her last few years in Gwinnett County.
Manchini was reported missing in December 2014 by her mother.
The investigator said he then used Google, the yellow pages and other law enforcement databases until they discovered Manchini as a likely match.
The investigator “compiled the research and turned it into the supervisor, where he confirmed she had back surgeries, mirroring the (medical examiner’s) findings.”
Cpl. Michele Pihera said June 28 that dental records were also used to confirm Manchini as the victim.
Manchini’s family created a Gofundme campaign to pay for funeral and service costs, which they hope to perform before her birthday on July 30.
“Jessica was our teacher, she was our play date, she was more than our sister. She was a little bit of everything,” according to the fundraiser.
As of 8 p.m. Friday, July 5, the fundraiser had raised $2,793 out of a stated $5,000 goal.
“Jessica is with us every day, more than in spirit. She has touched our lives in such a way that our entire family will continue to live vicariously through her for the rest of our days,” according to the fundraiser.
Police have not released the cause and manner of death in the case, and Sgt. Jake Smith did not return a request for comment on the case.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 770-513-5300 or use the anonymous Crime Stoppers tip line at 404-577-8477.
This report has been updated from its original version.