Body of teenager exhumed for 3rd autopsy

MARSHALL, Ark. (AP) - The body of a teenager who died nearly 18 years ago after she reportedly fell from a 9-inch-high porch has been exhumed for a third autopsy.

The body of Olivia "Janie" Ward of Marshall was unearthed from a Searcy County Cemetery yesterday as part of an investigation into her death by Special Prosecutor Tim Williamson.

An autopsy, including CT scans and a six-hour examination by out-of-state medical examiners and a forensic anthropologist, was scheduled for today.

The original 1989 autopsy report found that the 16-year-old girl died after hitting the back of her head in a fall.

Ward's family, however, believe her death was a homicide and they want the cause changed from "undetermined."

Ward's parents successfully petitioned the court to allow them to exhume their daughter's body for a second autopsy, in which another examiner found a tremendous force snapped Janie's head backward as if she'd been hit from the front.

Williamson reopened the case after being appointed as special prosecutor shortly after the second autopsy.

On Sept. 9, 1989, sheriff's deputies found the girl's body in the back of a pickup truck surrounded by teenagers in the town square.

Investigators later said she fell backward off a porch of a rural cabin while attending a party.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)