A year ago this month, I wrote the sad story about a death investigation of a young child whose remains were found in rural Lincoln County. It was one of those news items that you hate to write — the body of a little girl that was approximated to be 6.5 to 10 years old.
In the following months since the investigation started, Oregon State Police issued a few updates as the agency’s Major Crimes unit continued to seek answers. Just recently, a final release with news that arrests had been made.
First, the background. The girl’s body had been discovered in the vicinity of the H.B. Van Duzer Scenic Corridor on Highway 18 just outside of the rest area. To give you a perspective, this spot is roughly 60 miles northwest of Philomath and 22 miles east of Lincoln City.
The child had been concealed inside of a duffle bag and hidden in the forest. The level of decomposition showed she had been deceased for 30 to 60 days at the time that she was discovered by an individual walking in the area.
Investigators and experts at the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office collected samples from the child’s remains for DNA testing by a specialty DNA laboratory. Parabon Nano Labs extracted DNA from those samples on Oct. 4, notified OSP they had been able to identify the deceased child as 9-year-old Haley Mae Coblentz.
Born in Colorado, Haley had been living with her mother and her mother’s girlfriend in multiple places in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest since 2015, OSP reported. She was not reported as a missing person at the time of her death.
On Nov. 30, with the assistance of the Detroit FBI, OSP investigators located Haley’s mother, 29-year-old Shawna Browning, and 34-year-old Lauren Harrison, in Detroit. A search warrant was served on their vehicle and hotel room. Both were arrested on a Lincoln County warrant and charged with aggravated murder.
These individuals will have their day in court. But it’s good to see that the case may have been solved.
Brad Fuqua is the publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.