St. Louis Jane Doe
St. Louis Jane Doe
The shirt worn by St. Louis Jane Doe at the time of her murder, along with the cord that bound her.
|Status||Unidentified for 36 years, 4 months and 15 days|
|Died||c. February 23, 1983 (aged 8–11)|
|Cause of death||Homicide by strangulation|
|Body discovered||February 28, 1983 |
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
|Resting place||Calvary Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.|
|Known for||Unidentified decedent|
|Height||4 ft 10 in (1.47 m) (minimum) |
5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) (maximum)
|Weight||70 lb (32 kg) (minimum) |
80 lb (36 kg) (maximum)
The St. Louis Jane Doe is an unidentified girl who was found murdered in an abandoned house on February 28, 1983 in St. Louis, Missouri. She has also been nicknamed "Hope" and the "Little Jane Doe." The victim was estimated to be between eight and eleven when she was murdered and is believed to have been killed by strangulation. She was raped and decapitated. The brutality of the crime has led to national attention.
On the afternoon of February 28, 1983, two looters entered an abandoned Victorian house at 5635 Clemens Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri; inside, they discovered the headless body of an African-American child in the home's basement. The looters noticed the body after lighting a cigarette, which illuminated it; her body was naked except for a yellow sweater, and had been left lying on her stomach, with the hands bound behind her back with red and white nylon rope.
The victim was initially believed to have been a prostitute until police moved her body and discovered she did not have developed breasts, indicating she had not gone through puberty. Further examination was conducted within the next week.
It was concluded by law enforcement that the victim was not killed at the location where she was discovered, as no traces of blood were found by the body. This led to law enforcement to believe blood had been drained from her body elsewhere; her stomach was also empty at the time of her death. The Missouri Botanical Garden performed mold tests on her body which determined she had been killed within five days of her discovery.
The child had been bound at the wrists with a red nylon cord. Her head had been severed cleanly by a large blade, possibly a carving knife. She was between eight and eleven years old and was prepubescent; she had also been raped. She wore only a yellow, long sleeved V-Neck sweater and two coats of nail polish on her fingers – both of them shades of red. Her head has never been found, but the fingerprints, footprints and DNA information have been collected. There were no distinct marks or deformities on her body, except for evidence of spina bifida occulta. She was approximately 4 feet 10 inches (1.47 m) – 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m) tall when she was alive. Ten months after her discovery, with no new leads for investigators, she was buried at Washington Park Cemetery on December 2, 1983.
The child's sweater had previously been sent by law enforcement to a psychic in Florida who wanted to touch it to receive a psychic impression; however, the sweater was never returned, and presumed to have been lost in the mail.
Four missing girls have been ruled out as the victim, as well as the Northampton County Jane Doe from North Carolina, who was ruled out to be the remaining parts of the body. She was also presumed to have been a victim of Vernon Brown, who had murdered young girls in a similar manner. Brown was executed in 2005 and never confessed to murdering the Jane Doe, despite efforts made by investigators.
Authorities decided to exhume the body in 2013 in order to gather more forensic information about the victim. The remains had been misplaced, along with many other bodies in the Washington Park Cemetery, due to the negligence of cemetery records and were not found until mid June. The remains were located by using camera calibration techniques to determine precisely where a photograph of the casket had been taken on the day of the burial.
Isotope tests on samples of her bones were undertaken to determine the area the victim would have likely lived based on mineral content in her body. According to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the test results concluded the girl was likely to have lived her entire life in one of ten southeastern states: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee, or North or South Carolina. However, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children catalogue entry alternately lists the midwestern–midatlantic states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, or West Virginia.
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