Tina Coverdale finally at rest part 2
Court ruling closes Tina Coverdale case 2Vi years after death Continued from Al papers shortly after Tina Cover-dale's car was found, John W. Coverdale Jr., said he thought the remains were his daughter's. But making a positive identification would be no swift or easy task. According to Delaware State Medical Examiner Ali Z. Hameli, police found three bones in Cover-dale's car: two long leg bones and a segment of a thigh bone. "That was it," he said. "From the pieces of the bone, we could determine the sex, age, race and the height," he said, and the findings were consistent with Coverdale's description. "Scientifically, we don't have evidence that proves this is the body," said Hameli, an expert in identifying severely deteriorated remains. But the information from the remains, the circumstances surrounding her disappearance, and the finding of the vehicle in the water, all fit to make the identification. "I presume, then, that these bones belonged to Tina." The medical examiner's office could not conclude the investigation without a legal opinion, Hameli said, and he advised the family to seek a court order. According to Richard Kiger, master in Chancery, the parents retained a lawyer, who went to Chancery Court on their behalf to have their daughter declared presumptively dead, which is allowable under Delaware law in certain cirumstances. "If they've been missing for fewer than seven years and you can provide evidence that they were 'exposed to specific peril or death,' " Kiger said, this may be enough for the court to rule that the person is presumed dead. Kiger reviewed evidence presented at a public hearing on May 21, including testimony from Coverdale's boyfriend, a police officer and the medical examiner. On Aug. 3, Kiger submitted a recommendation to Chancellor William T. Allen, which stated that Kiger found no evidence of Tina's continued life and the circumstantial evidence strongly suggested she had Jiiill&J Tina M. Coverdale died in 1985. The chancellor signed and approved the order on Aug. 10, allowing a death certificate to be issued for Coverdale and her remains to be released to a funeral, director. For the Coverdale family, the feelings that accompany the end of their long wait are hard to describe. "I don't even know how to put it in words," her mother, Jo Anne Cover-dale, said. "It's the feeling that you just want to put it to rest."