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Police appeal to letter-writing confessed killer

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (CNN) -- Florida authorities are appealing to an anonymous, letter-writing confessed killer to give them enough information to solve the mystery of a Florida teen missing for almost two decades.

Time may be running out because the unknown letter-writing suspect claims to be dying of cirrhosis.

Colleen Emily Orsborn disappeared 17 years ago. Orsborn's brother received an unsigned, handwritten letter filled with misspellings and postmarked February 21 in Manchester, New Hampshire.

"I killed your beloved Colleen nearly 15 years ago. For that, I can only beg your forgiveness, I can only attempt to make ammends buy disclosing to you were her innocent little body is," the letter said.

The author described an area along the Tomaka River off Route 415 in Daytona Beach where the girl's body and clothes could be found. He said he put her clothes in a black trashbag about 100 feet from the body.

"We're assuming right now that everything in the letter is true, and the person who wrote it did what he, or she, said," Steven White, the lead investigator with the Volusia County Sheriff's Department, told CNN.

But, White said, the information "was so vague it was hard to find a starting point or a good reference location" to find Orsborn's body. He said the area is thick with brush and that without more precise information the "search would go on forever without any results."

"The family appreciates the efforts made. However, they're just not complete enough. We need a specific location to recover their sister," he said in an appeal to the letter writer.

For years, Orsborn's family believed she was the victim of Christopher Wilder, an Australian who traveled across the United States in the spring of 1984 raping, torturing and murdering more than 10 female victims. He died in April that year in a shootout with New Hampshire state troopers.

Orsborn, then 15, was last seen in the bedroom of her Daytona Beach home on March 19, 1984. Wilder was seen in Daytona earlier that day.

The family and authorities are treating the letter writer as the killer. The family, with the help of the Volusia County's Sheriff Department, has drafted a response to the anonymous letter, hoping the person will respond.

"We're just acting as if it is a true lead, and we're going to treat it as a homicide until we know differently," White said.

Asked if it could be a hoax, he said, "It's always a possibility, but until we confirm that it's a hoax, we're treating it as real."

• National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
• The Polly Klaas Foundation
• Volusia County, Florida

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