After 4 decades, DNA identifies Tampa teen as victim of serial killer Billy Mansfield

It’s been 41 years since Hernando County sheriff’s deputies descended on a 6-acre junkyard in Spring Hill’s Weeki Wachee Acres neighborhood, ready to start digging around the home neighbors now call the “House of Horrors.”

But on March 16, 1981, the day excavators and deputies started digging, it was simply the family home of Billy Mansfield Jr., the eldest son of a convicted child molester who took after his father in ways beyond their shared name.

In just a few weeks of digging, deputies unearthed the remains of four women on Mansfield’s property. Two were quickly identified but, year after year, the other two women have remained nameless.

That changed Wednesday afternoon, when the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office issued a formal announcement that one of the two victims has been positively identified as Theresa Caroline Fillingim. Fillingim was just a week away from her 17th birthday when her sister, Margaret Johns, reported her missing to Tampa police on May 16, 1980.


Johns did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Now, thanks to a new partnership with the University of North Texas and the Virginia-based DNA technology company Parabon Nano Labs, Hernando investigators said they can conclusively say Fillingim’s body was the third one pulled from the grounds around Mansfield’s home on April 3, 1981.

Investigators also worked alongside renowned expert Erin Kimmerle and her colleagues in the forensic anthropology department at the University of South Florida.

Fillingim’s remains had been sent to numerous labs over the years, but experts didn’t succeed in developing a DNA profile until 2020, the Sheriff’s Office said. That sample was then sent to the University of North Texas to search for a match in a national database, but that effort once again proved fruitless.