HAMILTON, Ohio — There was little left of 18-year-old Breanne Hamlin by the time police found her remains near Millikin Woods Park Wednesday night, her mother said Monday. Authorities had to use dental records to confirm her identity.
Her family, though, knew almost right away that the abandoned body belonged to her.
“It was a tattoo on her thigh that was visible,” her mother, Barbara Templin, said. “I had a picture on my phone. I drew it and designed it.”
Templin hadn’t seen her daughter in about a month before that, she said. Hamlin had been living at home, clean and sober after a prolonged struggle with drug abuse, through the early summer. Then she relapsed, left and lost touch.
The next time Templin saw her would be that Wednesday night.
It wasn’t really seeing her, Templin added. Police believe Hamlin had been dead for four days by the time she was found. Seeing what remained at that point was nothing like seeing her alive, smiling, the way her loved ones remember.
“She really was extraordinary,” Templin said. “There’s no other word to explain Breanne. She was beautiful. She had a great smile, personality. You couldn’t help but love her.”
Investigators had not publicized Hamlin’s cause of death by Monday night but said they did not suspect foul play. Her mother conceded she could have overdosed.
However, Templin said she didn’t believe it was possible that no one had known about the body. She insisted someone must have been aware of Hamlin’s death, must have seen her shortly beforehand and connected the pieces when she was discovered dead. If it was an overdose, it’s possible that it happened in the company of other drug users, she said.
“They let my baby lay there for four days,” Templin said. “To the point that she’s so unrecognizable, I can’t — her sister, her brother, her father can’t say goodbye to her. We have no way to see her one more time, to hug her one more time, to say our goodbyes to her because we can’t have an open casket.”
She said she hopes whoever knew about Hamlin’s death or whereabouts just before will contact police and help bring the family closure.
In the meantime, Templin will decide: Closed-casket funeral or cremation? It’s a call she was never prepared to make and might not be able to afford on a single income.
Templin created a GoFundMe to raise money for her daughter's funeral. Anyone wishing to donate can do so here.