JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Authorities may test DNA from a skull found in a Florida orange grove four decades ago to see if it may be that of a woman missing since 1973.
The last person known to be with Sharon Hensley was Felix Vail, who's being held on a murder charge in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Brian Hensley told The Clarion-Ledger (http://on.thec-l.com/1lzwrwM ) of Jackson, Mississippi, that the jaw and cheekbones of a forensic reconstruction of the skull are very like his sister's.
He contacted the Burleigh County Sheriff's Department sheriff's deputies in Bismark, North Dakota. Deputies called the FBI Wednesday about testing the DNA from the skull in Florida against DNA the Hensley family has given.
The family's DNA has been checked against other remains they thought might be those of Sharon Hensley, without a match.
Vail's letters give different accounts of Hensley's departure, the newspaper said.
In a March 20, 1973, letter to his mother, Vail wrote that he had recently sent Hensley and a man "off to the ocean and each other with my good wishes and blessings." He didn't give the man's name.
A year later, Vail wrote Hensley's mother that he had last seen Hensley in Key West, as she left to travel the world with an Australian couple named "John and Venessa."
In 1975, Vail told his mother that Hensley had left with "Frank and Sally."
Vail recently wrote to private investigator Gina Frenzel that he is being railroaded by "slanderous lies from hearsay witnesses coached by people who want their 15 minutes of fame," the newspaper reported.
In letters to and conversations with Frenzel, Vail talked of traveling with Hensley and surviving off "live food" that included oranges from groves, grapes from vineyards and apples from orchards.
The skull in Florida was found Sept. 23, 1975, in an orange grove near a cemetery in Thonotosassa, Fla., not far from Tampa.
A pathologist determined the skull was a white woman between the ages of 17 and 25. Hensley was 24.
Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com