SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The summer of 1969 was going to be special Louise McMillen.
The 16-year-old was staying in the family’s Bonnet Shores beach home.
She just got her drivers license and a new Buick Wildcat.
“She was coming into her own becoming more independent and battling with her parents a little bit,” said South Kingstown detective Ray Lamont. “[She] wanted more freedom.”
She had a group of friends who all liked her. She was a classic 16-year-old Rhode Island girl.
Before the summer heat was in full swing, she went to Kenyon’s department store in Wakefield to return some clothes on June 17.
That was the last time she was seen alive.
“We know she was last seen outside the department store talking to a younger male with long brown hair and sideburns,” Lamont said.
Her parents contacted Narragansett Police. Authorities created a “missing person” poster as they began to search for her. Eyewitness News archives from 50 years ago recovered by the Rhode Island Historical Society detail how the search began.
The Buick Wildcat was found the next day on Oakdell Street in Peacedale.
The archives reveal police used bloodhounds to search the area for Louise but the trail went nowhere. The dogs couldn’t track her.
In July, weeks after her car was found, Lamont said a man riding a motorcycle on trails found her body in the woods off Broad Rock Road.
“Her body was badly decomposed,” Lamont said.
Her cause of death was never determined. Police interviewed more than 100 people but there were no arrests.
“All the leads dried up and it just went cold,” he said.
In 2016, decades removed from her death, new hope emerged in the case. The Rhode Island Department of Health confirms her body was exhumed to be re-examined in 2016.
“I can’t get into the specifics of it but we were able to have the autopsy report changed which is big for the case,” he said.
Now the cause of death officially confirms she was murdered.
New tips have also come in aiding investigators. As technology has progressed, Lamont said they reprocessed the evidence.
“We were able to get a DNA profile off of one piece of evidence,” he said. “I was ecstatic when I got the news.”
He said all of the new details they’ve obtained in recent years has lead them to new suspects.
“It was almost like an ‘A-ha,’ like wow,” he said. “It just kept coming back to these people and I think we’re on the right path.”
Still, more is needed to close the 50-year-old case.
Lamont added the case to a deck of playing cards to bring in more tips. Each card highlights an unsolved homicide or missing person case in Rhode Island. Louise McMillen is the Ace of Hearts.
“People to this day, in this town, still talk about it,” Lamont said. “I’m hoping that we’re able to solve this case for Louise and have closure for her family that has wondered for 50 years what happened to her.”
Anyone with information is asked to call 1-877-RI-SOLVE.