List of unidentified decedents in California

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Unidentified decedents are a group of people who have died but officials were unable to discover who they were when they were alive. Several victims are not identified for several years or even decades after their deaths, one case being that of Barbara Precht, who died in 2006 and was identified in 2014.[1] Around 40,000 decedents still remain unidentified in the United States.[2][3]

Los Angeles County Does (1921–1951)[edit]

Retouched morgue photograph of the female victim killed in a dynamite explosion between 1921 and 1951.

Two children were witnessed playing with sticks of dynamite in Los Angeles County, California between the years of 1921 and 1951. Poor record keeping resulted in the exact date of the incident being unknown; the time range was established from the thirty-year career of the particular crime scene photographer. The dynamite subsequently exploded and killed both the victims, one male and one female. Very little is known about these two victims, especially the male child, as it was impossible to create a reconstruction from his body due to the injuries he suffered. He wore dark colored loafers; dark socks; medium toned pants; possibly a dark colored long sleeved shirt. The female was in much better condition. She was most likely a teenager, though a wider possible age range is not known. Her height, weight, hair and eye color are unknown; though she most likely was Caucasian.[4] She was wearing a light-colored long sleeved top; dark colored skirt or pants; dark colored socks with stripes at top.

San Bernardino County John Doe (1930)[edit]

San Bernardino County John Doe, killed by a truck in 1930.

A man estimated to be between the ages of fifty-five and sixty years old was struck by a truck on Cajon Highway on October 22, 1930 in Verdemont, San Bernardino County, California. The victim had been walking alongside the road and was presumed to have been killed as soon as the vehicle collided with his body. He had hazel eyes, a beard and gray hair. His height and weight were five feet eight inches and 180 pounds, respectively. The unidentified man's fingerprints have since been obtained, but his dental records were not and his DNA was not possible to use to create a genetic profile to compare to potential matches.[5]

Los Angeles County Jane Doe (1968)[edit]

1968 Los Angeles County Jane Doe

An African-American female was found dead on September 30, 1968 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California. The woman was estimated to be over the age of twenty five and was at a height of five feet three inches tall and weighed about 110 pounds. Her hair was black and her eyes were brown, coinciding with her race. The teeth were left in a natural condition, as no evidence of dental work was noted. Her wisdom teeth had yet to erupt. The woman wore a pullover shirt, pants, black shoes and matching socks. The colors of the pants and shirt are unknown. She may have died of a drug overdose and her body was abandoned behind a building, presumably transported from the place of death. It is believed she was seen alive immediately prior to her death, but this has not led to the discovery of her identity.[6]

Carson Jane Doe[edit]

2020 sketch of the Carson Jane Doe

A Hispanic female's body was found in Carson, Los Angeles County, California after she was presumably buried by two Hispanic males fleeing the scene on April 20, 1978. She had pierced ears, painted nails and plucked eyebrows, indicating she made effort toward her appearance. She was five feet two inches tall and weighed 133 pounds at the approximate age of sixteen to twenty years old. After examination of her body, a scar was found on her abdomen and stretch marks were visible on her stomach, possibly due to carrying a child. Her teeth overlapped on the right side of her top set of teeth.[7]

Bell John Doe[edit]

Bell John Doe

The body of a male between fifteen and twenty years old was found on the side of a river after he died hours before in Bell, Los Angeles County, California on September 19, 1979. He had brown hair and brown eyes and wore a leather belt, Hawaiian-style shirt, blue pants and white socks. The decedent was approximately five feet eight inches tall and weighed 139 pounds. The cause of his death has not been published.[8]

Sierra Madre John Doe[edit]

The skeletonized body of a white male between twenty-two and twenty-eight years of age was found in Sierra Madre, California on January 5, 1981 alongside a river. He was believed to have died one or more years before his body was found. He was between five feet five to five feet eight inches tall and is presumed to be white, although he may have had Asian heritage. He had blond hair and was found wearing a blue jersey with the numbers "44."[9]

Los Angeles County John Doe (1981)[edit]

Los Angeles County John Doe (1981)

A Hispanic man was killed when his vehicle collided with a light post after he was racing another vehicle on March 15, 1981 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California. The victim was estimated to have been between thirty-two and forty-five years old and was at a height of five feet three inches tall and was at a weight of 132 pounds. His eyes and hair were dark, coinciding with the estimation of his race and he had noticeable wear on his teeth. He wore a white T-shirt, tan pants, socks and a brown hat. Despite the fact that the license plate on the 1968 Ford truck he drove was decipherable, he remained unidentified.[10]

Los Angeles County John Doe (1991)[edit]

1991 Los Angeles County John Doe

On January 5, 1991, a man's body was found in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California. He was between forty and sixty years old, six feet one inch tall and weighed 175 pounds. The man had brown hair, blue eyes and also wore glasses as well as a tattoo on his left arm of the word "animal." He had suffered an injury to one of his knees in the past, which had healed before his death. He was wearing a blue shirt, black jacket, white and blue underwear, black boots, black belt and black pants. He also wore a watch with a broken metal band.[11] He did not have any teeth, though it has not been disclosed if he wore or did not wear dentures.[12] Some sources state he was found unresponsive on a sidewalk and others state he was found in an abandoned car.[13]

Hollywood John Doe (1993)[edit]

1993 Hollywood John Doe

A young man jumped to his death from a hotel on May 15, 1993 in Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California. His estimated age was between twenty-five and thirty-five, and he weighed 155 pounds at the height of five feet six to five feet eight inches tall. He was white with possibly some Hispanic characteristics; as he had dark hair, dark eyes and olive-toned skin. The man had a scar on his abdomen, which could assist with his identification. He wore black pants, white socks and shoes, a purple shirt, a necklace, and a black jacket.[14]

Los Angeles County John Doe (1993)[edit]

1993 Los Angeles County John Doe

A man between thirty and forty-five years old checked into a hotel in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California on October 21, 1993. He signed in using the name "Paul Deering" and provided the address "790 East Ute." In Salt Lake City, Utah. When he failed to check out 2 days later, hotel staff found him slumped in his bed. The victim had committed suicide by ingesting lethal amounts of cyanide. Police discovered that a "Paul Deering" was living in the address the victim provided, but he was confirmed not to be the decedent. He was determined to be Caucasian and had brown hair and blue eyes and was five feet nine inches tall and weighed 182 pounds. The man wore a red shirt with beige pants, underwear and shoes and a belt that were both brown. The victim was likely married, as he wore a ring on his left hand. Apart from this, the only personal item with the body was a set of car keys.[15]

Trabuco Canyon John Doe[edit]

Trabuco Canyon John Doe

The skeleton of a male between the ages of fifteen and nineteen was discovered alongside a stream in Trabuco Canyon, California on December 13, 1996, in an area that was "frequented by transients and illegal aliens." The subject was white with Hispanic characteristics and had reddish hair.[16] Because of the state of his remains, his eye color could not be assessed. The male was at a height of between five feet two and five feet eight inches tall and weighed between 130 and 160 pounds. He had poor dental health, as there were some cavities and abscesses were observed along with other problems. The cause of the decedent's death has never been determined and he likely died between January 1995 and June 1996.[17] With the remains, a large white T-shirt was found, along with "bikini" underwear in poor condition and an insole for a shoe. Wires believed to have been intended for electrical use were also found near the site, as well as an elastic cloth band and a "knotted cloth ligature."[18]

Whittier John Doe[edit]

Whittier John Doe

A man's body was found on December 30, 1997 in Whittier, Los Angeles County, California. He was white, between thirty and forty-five years old and was missing his left testicle, which may assist in establishing his identity. He had dark hair, brown eyes and wore a beard and mustache. The man had also begun to lose his hair. He was five feet ten inches tall but was underweight, at 105 pounds. He wore a greenish nylon jacket, jeans, boots and a belt.[19][20] Blankets had been placed over his body, although it is not known if they were owned by the man or if they were used to hide the body.[21]

Rancho Palos Verdes John Doe[edit]

Rancho Palos Verdes John Doe

A man was found dead, sitting against a tree, on January 23, 2001 in Rancho Palos Verdes, Los Angeles County, California. The subject was of Caucasian descent and was between the ages of forty-five and fifty-six at the time he died, due to unknown circumstances.[22] It is speculated the man could have been a hiker. He was tall, at a height of six feet two inches, and he weighed 183 pounds. His eyes were blue and his hair was gray, which was consistent with his age estimation. The decedent's multiple tattoos included a bird, a lion wearing a crown, the name "Mike," and a sword with a crucifix. Along with a T-shirt, sweatshirt, tan pants, a vest, a belt, and blue shoes, he wore a watch, a ring and a necklace bearing a charm engraved with the name "Michael."[23] The man also had a scar on one knee and had had an appendectomy.[24]

Santa Monica Jane Doe (2005)[edit]

The body of a woman was found on March 14, 2005 in Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California. The exact cause of her death is not known, but is regarded as a possible suicide or accidental death. The woman was between thirty and forty-three years old when she was found floating in a body of water, not long after her death. She was possibly named "Martina," who was an immigrant from Germany or a nearby country, as she may have spoken in a heavy accent, and may have lived as a transient or may have been homeless. She was between five feet four to five feet six inches tall and weighed around 134 pounds. The woman's hair was a shoulder length brown with blond highlights. She had green eyes and had an amateurishly placed tattoo on her hand with the words "thank you" under a series of doodle-like symbols. She wore four rings, a plastic necklace, a chain with charms and white-colored metal earrings. The woman was fully clothed with jeans, a striped sweater and some shirts underneath. She was not wearing shoes when she was found.[25] The woman had two cysts on her left wrist.[26]

Kings County Jane Doe (May 2015)[edit]

FBI reconstruction of Kings County Jane Doe

A white or Hispanic woman's remains were discovered near Corcoran, Kings County, California on May 13, 2015. She had died about six weeks to a year before. The remains were concealed in a tarp and no cause of death could be determined. She was at least 45 years old, but most likely over the age of 60. She was between 5'0 and 5'6" tall but would have a hunched appearance due to osteoporosis. She is estimated to have weighed between 100 and 160 pounds.[27] Her hair was either gray or a graying blond color.[28] She wore a striped tee-shirt (sold at Walmart, black yoga pants and Depends underwear. She had no teeth and wore no dentures, although it appeared she had been prepared for them.[29]

It is theorized the woman died due to natural causes and her body was concealed so relatives would continue to receive benefits preceding her death.[30]

The DNA Doe Project is currently processing her DNA to locate potential relatives.[31]


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  16. ^ "John Doe 1996". National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  17. ^ "CORONER CASE NUMBER: 96-07901-MU". Orange County Coroner. Archived from the original on 10 September 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  18. ^ "NamUs UP # 7686". National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. 26 August 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  19. ^ "Case File 1403UMCA". The Doe Network.
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  22. ^ "NamUs UP # 3357". National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  23. ^ "Case File 828UMCA". The Doe Network. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
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  28. ^ Griswold, Lewis (1 June 2017). "Do you recognize this face? FBI creates 3-D image of dead woman dumped in rural area". Fresno Bee. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  29. ^ "Kings County Sheriff seeks public's help again in identifying unidentified deceased woman". The Leader. 1 June 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  30. ^ Valentine, Kate (18 December 2015). "Investigators in Kings County need the publics help identifying a body". ABC30 Fresno. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  31. ^ "Kings County Jane Doe - DNA Doe Project Cases". DNA Doe Project Cases. Retrieved 20 October 2018.