Debra Mackey deserved better.

Debra Mackey deserved a longer life than 20 years. She also deserved a much better investigation into her untimely death. Instead, it took over 40 years for her body to be identified- and her body was buried with another woman's skull.

Debra's head was never found.

https://charleyproject.org/ and canva
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Debra, of Lubbock, Texas, went missing in January of 1982. In mid-February of '82, the remains of a decapitated woman were found near Plainview, Texas (about 45 miles away from Lubbock). The headless woman was found to have been sexually assaulted, with her hands bound by her bra.

Although investigators could lift prints from the body, no matching prints were on file. Investigators also thought the woman they found was white, further delaying identification.

Strange Roommates Six Feet Under

In October of '82, the skull of a young woman was found in Scottsdale, Arizona. Ralph Erdmann, the attending pathologist who served Lubbock County, claimed he was "95 percent certain" that the skull and body were from the same person.

In 1992 Ralph Erdmann was convicted of falsifying autopsy reports. He made egregious mistakes that led to false convictions, including losing one woman's head and putting a man behind bars for the death of his infant son. A competent pathologist would find the child died of accidental drowning.

And that is why Debra was buried with another woman's skull in a grave marked "Jane Doe" in Plainview, Texas. Because Erdmann was corrupt, and incompetent, and took every opportunity to charge for autopsies he didn't perform, or at best, "skimmed" through.

Confessions For Milkshakes

In a shameful spree of lazy detective work, "serial killer" Henry Lee Lucus allowed himself to be manipulated into "closing" hundreds of Texas cold case files. Investigators fed him crucial details about these cases, in addition to hamburgers and milkshakes, to get plausible confessions out of Lucus, including a confession for the murder of Debra.

The Lucus project would debunk many of Luca's confessions, and Lucus would be one of only a handful of men to receive clemency on Death Row.

DNA Doe Project

The DNA Doe Project, founded in 2017, is a nonprofit whose goal is to identify Jane and John Doe-s.  The project has identified over 100 people in a short amount of time. In June of 2023, the DNA Doe Project identified Debra, finally giving her that dignity after 40 long years.

She Deserves More

The identification of Debra is an important step, but she deserves one more very important thing- justice. Debra Mackey's case is still cold and her killer could still be on the loose- if they are not incarcerated for another crime or dead. Somebody knows something that could close this case.

Anyone with information regarding the case is encouraged to call Crime Line at (806) 741-1000. There is a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest or arrests of anyone involved in Debra's disappearance.

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