List of unidentified murder victims in the United States
Of the thousands of people murdered every year in the United States, several remain unidentified. Many of these individuals remain unidentified for years or even decades after their deaths. These cases include that of Tammy Jo Alexander, who was murdered in 1979 and remained an unidentified decedent until 2015, Reet Jurvetson, who was murdered in 1969 and whose body remained unidentified for 46 years, and Alisha Heinrich, a toddler thrown alive from the Interstate 10 bridge in 1982 and identified via genetic genealogy in 2020.
Tuscaloosa County Jane DoeEdit
Tuscaloosa County Jane Doe was a white female aged between 34 and 38 whose body was found in Slaughter Creek, near the Sipsey River in Romulus, Tuscaloosa County on April 18, 1982. She had been beaten and sexually assaulted, strangulation being the cause of death.
She was 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighed approximately 110 to 115 pounds, had a ruddy complexion (indicating that she regularly engaged in outdoor activity), wore an upper partial denture, and had dark-brown, shoulder-length hair, and brown eyes. She also had a visible scar beneath her right eyebrow. This decedent wore tennis shoes, knitted blue pants, a long-sleeved blue shirt, and white undergarments.
It is possible that she was fishing at the area and was killed at the scene, as disturbances of the earth were discovered at the location of her discovery. Moreover, she may have given birth to at least one child in her lifetime, and her body showed evidence of her having performed manual labor. Her remains were exhumed in 2013 both for additional examination and to obtain a DNA sample.
"Little Miss X"Edit
The skeletonized remains of a girl, nicknamed "Little Miss X," were found on a desolate road 10 miles southeast of the Grand Canyon in Coconino County, Arizona on October 31, 1958. Although no cause of death could be determined, the case has always been considered a homicide.
The girl was a white American with possible Hispanic or Latino ancestry; she is estimated to have been between 11 and 14 years old at the time of her death. She was between 5 ft and 5 ft 3 in (150 and 160 cm) in height. It was determined that she had died 9–14 months before her bones were found.
The victim had received good dental care during her life, having seven fillings in four of her teeth. Her hair had been dyed a lighter brown from its natural dark brown. Many of the victim's personal items were at the scene as well: a 10-karat-gold chain; a small jar of Pond's cold cream; a white nylon comb; a small white powder puff with traces of sun-tan-colored powder; and a small blue plastic nail file case with an indented letter "P" and a hand-printed capital "R" next to it.
No clothing was found on the victim's body. However, a white wool cardigan short-sleeved sweater, a white cotton size 34C bra, and brown Capri pants with a green-and-red-plaid design were found at the scene. Investigators deduced the victim had been stripped naked prior to, or shortly after, being killed. A pair of white panties was also found, although they appeared to be too large for the victim.
Her body was exhumed in 1962 for further examination. However, due to poor record-keeping, no records exist indicating her re-burial site. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has since released a facial reconstruction image of her.
San Mateo County John Doe (1973)Edit
On December 24, 1973, an unknown homeless man was allegedly abducted and killed in San Francisco California during the Zebra murders of 1973–1974; all that was found of his remains were his torso, arms, and legs. 
San Diego County Jane Doe (1978)Edit
The body of a girl between the ages of 14 and 18 years was discovered on the side of a road on February 14, 1978, in Otay, California. She had died two days prior. Her body was unrecognizable because it had been set on fire. The cause of her death was by poisoning and torture. The kind of poison used has not been disclosed by investigators.
An examination concluded that she was a white girl, between 5 feet and 5 feet 1 inch tall, weighing 85 to 90 pounds. Her eye color is presumed to have been brown, although the autopsy did not confirm the color. Her hair was brown and tied back with a rubber band. The victim had had her ears pierced. Her right ear was deformed and was smaller than her left ear, which was a distinctive feature.
Mendocino County John Doe (2012) Edit
For years, a Humboldt County, California family kayaked past a half-buried white tennis shoe on the bank of the Eel River. One of their trips occurred on October 30, 2012. When the family noted a second shoe protruding near the first, the father investigated. When he pulled one of the Pro Wing shoes from the dirt, a foot came with it. The family then called the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department to the site, the 83000 block of Hwy 271, Piercy, CA.
Once a Halloween prank was ruled out, the skeletal remains were deemed to belong to a homicide victim. They were examined by CSU Chico's Human Identification Laboratory. The remains were determined to have been buried for several years; they were of a white male 25 to 45 years old, with a stature of 5 feet 11 inches to 6 feet 5 inches. Associated with the remains, besides the shoes, were a rusty jack knife, long underwear pants, and a T-shirt. DNA testing was requested. So was botanical testing on roots intertwined with the bones. However, the best lead for identification is the T-shirt; it was imprinted with "Before I started working here I drank, smoked, and used foul language for no reason at all. But thanks to this job, I now have a reason."
New Haven County John Doe (1923)Edit
On August 9, 1923, the badly decomposed remains of an unknown male were found on Milford Turnpike in West Haven near the New Haven County Home. The John Doe had brown hair, was estimated to be approximately 20 years old, measured 5 feet 7 inches (1.70 m), and weighed around 150 pounds (68 kg). He wore a striped brown suit and had a chauffeur's cap under one arm. The cause of death was determined to be strangulation via a belt drawn tightly around the neck. A handkerchief with a wad of cotton inside had also been tied around his mouth. Two wounds on the victim's chest were initially mistaken for gunshots but were later theorized to be injuries caused by the killer's shoes when holding the victim down. Serial killer Carl Panzram confessed to the murder in 1928, claiming that he had lured the victim into the woods before sexually assaulting and strangling him. Panzram stated that the victim was a 16-year-old Jewish boy who wore thick glasses and was the son or nephew of a New York policeman. A first degree murder warrant was issued for Panzram.
"Lorraine Stahl" Edit
On May 30, 1974, the nearly skeletal remains of a young white female were found wrapped in a blanket in a wooded area in Stonington, Connecticut. The cause of death was undetermined, however, investigators believe she was killed through homicidal means. She was estimated to be between 18 and 30 years old and was 5 feet 2 inches tall. She had brown or auburn hair. Weight and eye color could not be determined due to decomposition. She was found wearing a tan leather vest, a gold/tan sweater, a brown tweed skirt, a pair of brown boots, a yellow raincoat, and a class-like ring with the letters "JNHS/JHNS" and the initials "ILN" on the side. Witnesses had seen her driving a green 1964 Oldsmobile with Massachusetts or Miami plates. She was also known to be in the company of the bank robber Gustavous Lee Carmichael, whose corpse was found nearby; nearly four years before (on December 31, 1970) he and the woman had been shot dead and buried. A telephone list was found with her remains. Calls were made to Nashville, Tennessee, various cities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Wilmington, Delaware, and Buffalo, New York as well as New York City. Investigators believe that she may have relatives in Tennessee, West Virginia, or the Carolinas. Two men, Richard DeFreitas and Donald Brant, were charged with their murders and eventually found guilty in July 1976.
Miami-Dade County Jane Doe (1979)Edit
On September 4, 1979, a young woman's body was found lying in an apartment complex parking lot next to a dumpster, in Dade, Miami-Dade County, Florida. She was believed to have died just hours before, leaving her face in a recognizable condition. She had not been murdered at that location and had likely been killed at a different area. Her eyes were described as hazel, although the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System states that they were a grayish-green. Her hair was strawberry blonde, and she was five foot five to five foot eight inches tall, and weighed 120 pounds. She was between 17 and 25 years old at the time of her death. On her calves, burns were found, possibly from coming in contact with tail pipes from riding on a motorcycle. The victim had acne on her face and some fillings in her mouth. The body was found clad in a white tee shirt, a yellow scarf with flower designs, and blue jeans. Recent developments in her case have turned up the possibility that she may have been an Ohio runaway named Tina and nicknamed "Sheeba". However, no information has been published if this lead has had results. The missing girl had left Ohio in 1977, and has never been seen nor heard from since. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children published this information on their Facebook page dedicated to unidentified children, hoping for additional tips.
Newton County John DoesEdit
Genetic testing upon the Caucasian victim, believed to have been murdered by Eyler in mid- to late-May 1983, began in January 2021. This individual was identified in April 2021 as 19-year-old John Brandenburg Jr.
St. Tammany Parish John Doe (2016)Edit
The partially dismembered body of a White and Middle Eastern male aged 65 or older was discovered in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana on July 29, 2016. The victim had died about three days before and was dumped at the scene following his murder. His body was in an advanced stage of decomposition. A scar, possibly from open heart surgery was present on his chest. His height was estimated to be about 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m). His arms and one leg were removed, possibly to conceal unique tattoos or marks on his body. Investigators were unsure of certain traits the man had until DNA phenotyping was performed by the Parabon NanoLabs. The results indicated he had brown or hazel eyes, dark brown hair, and a fair complexion. The victim or the individuals responsible for his death may have links to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the victim himself may have been a transient.
"Lady of the Dunes"Edit
An unidentified woman whose body was discovered on July 26, 1974, in the Race Point Dunes, Provincetown, Massachusetts. She had been murdered by extensive blunt force trauma to the head, and her killer had made several attempts to prevent her body from being identified.
Barnstable County John DoeEdit
On June 4, 2014, the torso of a man of African heritage was found on a beach in Sandwich, Barnstable County, Massachusetts with his head and all four limbs missing. It is believed that the man was around six feet tall and weighed between 220 and 230 pounds. His body was found on the beach wrapped in a blue tarp and attached to a moving dolly. A surgical scar was also present, but it was unrelated to the murder. Another identifying feature was a T-shirt for a Rhode Island pipe distribution company, although the quantity of the shirts handed out each year prevented easy identification. In 2020, his face was reconstructed using DNA phenotyping.
Wayne County Jane Doe (1987)Edit
On February 10, 1987, the body of a young woman, aged 16 to 25, was located in a dump in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. The victim was deceased less than two days and had been stabbed to death. She was approximately 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m) tall and weighed around 114 pounds (52 kg). The victim had given birth eight weeks to one year prior, and she was lactating. A scar from an episiotomy was also found on her body. Her hair was brown with red and blond highlights, and was styled with a long nape with various layers. She was slender, but had an athletic build and an O blood type. Her nails were painted with pink polish, and she had brown or hazel eyes. A worn black bikini bottom was the only clothing she wore. Two rings were found on her left hand, one on her index finger and one on her ring finger, indicating she may have been married. She also had pierced ears. Along with some other unidentified decedents from Detroit, the victim was exhumed in 2014 for additional examination. The DNA Doe Project is assisting with the victim's case.
St. Charles County Jane DoeEdit
The body of a white girl aged two to three years was discovered inside a suitcase that had been thrown into Lake Alton in West Alton, Missouri, in St. Charles County on February 1, 1968. This decedent is also known as Jane Doe West Alton.
The child's remains were recovered by two fishermen who had hooked their line on the suitcase, which had been wrapped in blue clothesline and weighted with two 10-pound barbells found inside the suitcase.
Distinctive features noted of her remains were an abnormally large tooth and a scar above one of her eyes. She had long, blond hair, although due to decomposition, her eye color could not be determined. She was approximately 2 feet 8 inches tall and weighed between 35 and 40 pounds. The sole item of clothing on her remains was a pair of white underwear.
The child had been dead for up to one month before her body was discovered. She was identified as a homicide victim, although authorities declined to reveal the precise method used to kill her. She was laid to rest on February 7 in an unmarked grave in the children's section of Oak Grove Cemetery.
After an image of the child was constructed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in September 2015, the body was exhumed on September 24 from her unmarked grave in an effort to obtain a DNA sample. Investigators later announced that the DNA testing conducted on her remains was unsuccessful. Nonetheless, the exhumation would yield a more accurate estimation of the girl's age at the time of her death. Her skull was studied to create a more accurate composite image of her appearance in life.
Ulster County John DoeEdit
A frozen male corpse was found on February 1, 1970, in the Ulster County town of Saugerties, at the bottom of a slope near Platte Clove Road by two children who were out sledding. He was aged between 35 and 45 and had been shot four times in the back of the head. The victim was approximately 5 feet 3 inches (160 cm) tall and weighed about 155 pounds (70 kg). He had dark brown hair, with balding at the crown. He was wearing a tan three-quarter length raincoat over a dark green suit with faint pinstripes; beneath was a blue dress shirt and black silk Playboy Enterprises tie with pajamas underneath. On his feet were gray socks and size 81⁄2 black dress shoes covered by black Canadian-made Wings rubbers. In his pocket he had $156 ($1,089 in modern dollars) in cash, but no identification.
He appeared to be from outside the United States, most likely Brazil. His suit has been described as "European-style". On his wrist was an Omega Seamaster wristwatch (serial number 16815714) that had been sold in a Portuguese coastal resort town. His other accessory was a gold ring whose stamp indicated it had been made in Brazil, set with an imitation ruby of Portuguese manufacture. His undershirt was a Brazilian store brand, made in Taiwan; the bullets used to kill him also appeared to be a Brazilian brand.
Cheatham County Jane DoeEdit
On March 31, 1985, the skeletonized body of a red-haired white female believed to be between the ages of thirty-one and forty was found in Pleasant View, Cheatham County, Tennessee. She was between five and five feet two inches (157 cm) tall. Her weight could not be determined. An examination of her teeth showed some evidence of crowding and overlapping. She is believed to have died three to five months previously. The murders may have continued until 1992.
South Padre Island Jane DoeEdit
The decomposed remains of a Hispanic woman were found on a beach, scavenged by coyotes, on October 10, 2012, in South Padre Island, Cameron County, Texas. The victim's body was likely exposed due to changes in water levels on the beach. The woman had been dead for one to several weeks before her remains were discovered. The sand above the body had been "covered with lime," possibly to speed decomposition or plant growth, likely as a way to prevent the body from being found or identified. Her height was estimated to be four feet ten to five feet two inches tall and her weight at about 95 to 120 pounds. She was middle-aged, approximately forty-two to fifty-five, at the time of death. One or more of the female's limbs were not found with the body, as they were likely carried away by animals. A distinctive feature about this female was that she had her make-up permanently tattooed on her eyebrows, eyelids, and lips. Her ears had also been pierced. She was clothed, wearing a dark top, multicolored shorts with star decorations and bikini underwear, along with a sanitary pad. The woman's death is considered to be due to foul play and a "suspicious" white-colored "powder" was found on the face region. Since her discovery, a three-dimensional reconstruction and a sketch have been created of the victim.
Wetzel County Jane DoeEdit
The naked body of a white female was found alongside Route 250 near Littleton, in Wetzel County, West Virginia in February 1983. A pair of senior citizens reported the body, which they originally had thought was a display mannequin. The body had been placed in the area recently, as snow was on the ground but not on the body. Police said that tire tracks and footprints nearby indicated that she was likely transported to this site after death from another location. Their examination concluded she had died about two days previously and was not a victim of sexual assault.
The skeletal remains of a lightly built Caucasian male between the ages of 22 and 27, dressed in women's clothes, were discovered in the basement of the now-defunct 'Good N Loud' music store on University Avenue in Madison on September 3, 1989, when the owner pulled a vent pipe from the brickwork in an attempt to find the source of a blockage that was causing water seepage. The victim was wearing a paisley dress, a black, long-sleeved White Stag blouse, an Iron cross necklace, and a 'shag' sweater, and had brown hair and a slight overbite. The victim was carrying a butter knife, a spare pair of socks, and a comb at the time of death, and was not wearing underwear. The victim's pelvis had been broken, possibly in the process of forcing the body into the chimney, and the remains may have been there for two months to two years. The victim may have worked as a page in the state Legislature sometime between 1977 and 1985.
Columbia County Jane DoeEdit
The skeletal remains of a woman were found in Caledonia, Columbia County, Wisconsin on May 8, 1982, in a wooded area near Highway 78. It is believed that she had died elsewhere and was disposed of at that location. The victim and her murderer may not have been local to the area as her body was found near a highway, indicating that her body may have been transported to the location from elsewhere in the United States.
The victim, aged 45 to 65 and most likely white, had been killed by blunt-force trauma to the skull. She had likely borne at least one child before her death. There was evidence of arthritis in her neck and back, and this may have affected the way she walked.
Because of the degree of decomposition of her body, her hair color, eye color, weight, and complexion are unknown. However, some details could be assessed. Her height is estimated to be 5 feet 5 to 5 feet 7 inches tall. Her dental characteristics were fairly unusual, as the partial denture and crowns in her mouth were said to have been out of the ordinary. No clothing was found at the body disposal site except for a multicolored blouse and size 12 brown pants.
She was buried in Wyocena, Wisconsin, on September 1, 1987, after her case went cold, but her body was exhumed in April 2014. Her remains were transported to Virginia for additional testing, including DNA profiling. Since the case was reopened and reintroduced to the public eye, tips as to her identity have been submitted to the authorities. The DNA Doe Project was asked to help assist with identifying her in March 2020.
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Media related to Atlantic County Jane Doe at Wikimedia Commons