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'A case like this gives hope to families' | After 'Valentine Sally' identified, investigators say no case is too old

“It just keeps the possibility open that no matter how old a case is, the possibility exists for closure and clearing the case,” Detective Thomas Taylor said

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — It is in the 1200 block of Bliss Drive in north St. Louis County that neighbors of the Eatons, 40 years ago, say Carolyn lived with her family.

St. Louis County Police say they were contacted by Arizona investigators in September. Thomas Taylor is a missing persons detective.

“It just keeps the possibility open that no matter how old a case is, the possibility exists for closure and clearing the case,” said Taylor.

Arizona sheriff's deputies called her "Valentine Sally" because her body was found on Valentine's Day in 1982.

Patricia Wilkins, a truck stop waitress, may have been the last person to see Eaton alive in the restaurant where she worked.

“But I'll tell you what,” said Taylor, “now I can start sending Valentine’s cards again. I've never, ever celebrated that day since.”

A few days later, a sheriff's deputy stopped by the restaurant asking questions about a murder victim.

“He said, ‘I would guess that that's our girl.’ And she must have died just hours after I had seen her,” Wilkins said.

RELATED: St. Louis teen identified as 'Valentine Sally' in 40-year-old Arizona cold case

Now, after all this time has passed, DNA has helped identify that girl as Carolyn Eaton.

“A case like this gives hope to families. It gives hope to investigators,” Taylor said.

Taylor said there is an automated, regular process for reviewing missing persons cases in the St. Louis County Police Dept. Taylor says it involves a validation process using the internet and law enforcement websites.

“I can almost name off all the existing cases we have,” he said. “Something like this makes you review what you've done and make sure you've done the same things they did, if that's available.”