PLAINWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — The sister of Carol Ann Cole, the Kalamazoo teen known as “Bossier Doe” until her body was recently identified, was initially told the Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations Fund could cover most of her funeral costs.
But the state law that created the program went into effect in July 1982 — 18 months after Cole’s body was discovered in Bossier Parish, La.
Now, Jeanie Phelps is being told her sister doesn’t qualify, so she’s cutting back and delaying a memorial service.
“We were kind of hoping to have that help and it’s not there,” Phelps, of Kalamazoo, told 24 Hour News 8.
Cole was 17 when she disappeared in December 1980, apparently from Shreveport, La. Her unidentified body was found in January 1981 in some woods not far away in Bossier Parish. She had been stabbed nine times in the chest and back.
She became known as Bossier Doe and remained unidentified for more than 34 years.
Phelps has already picked out a spot for her sister’s final resting place under a pine tree in Maple Grove Cemetery in Comstock Township, more than 1,000 miles from where her body was found more than 34 years ago.
“This is going to be my place to visit her,” Phelps said, wiping away tears. “It’s a really nice spot — easy to locate her, under the tree.”
Phelps spent part of Wednesday shopping at Plainwell Memorials for a headstone for her sister. She was hoping for a monument topped with angel wings.
“You know what I’m talking about? The stone with the angel actually leaning over it,” she described to Norma Nichols of Plainwell Memorials.
But that would cost at least $3,000 and she doesn’t have the money, so she’s settling for something smaller and cheaper — it will cost about $1,000 even with a discount.
There are other costs.
“We’re looking at about six grand,” Phelps said.
A GoFundMe account set up for the family has raised $1,795 in a month.
Bossier Parish sheriff’s Lt. Bill Davis said his office is working with the state to somehow help Phelps “since this case is so unique.”
“We can surely push any efforts via our means and local media to get word out to folks about supporting a headstone and memorial service for Carol Ann,” Davis wrote in a text to 24 Hour News 8. “Her story has surely touched many lives in our area.”
No matter what size headstone Phelps picks, it will include her sister’s other name.
“Bossier Doe,” she said. “That’s who she was known as for 35 years.”