St. Louis Jane Doe

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St. Louis Jane Doe
St. Louis Jane Doe.jpg
The shirt worn by St. Louis Jane Doe at the time of her murder, along with the cord that bound her.
Born1972–1975 (approximate)
StatusUnidentified for 36 years, 4 months and 15 days
Diedc. February 23, 1983 (aged 8–11)
Cause of deathHomicide by strangulation
Body discoveredFebruary 28, 1983
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Resting placeCalvary Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.[1]
Known forUnidentified decedent
Height4 ft 10 in (1.47 m) (minimum)
5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) (maximum)
Weight70 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."[2] 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.

The head of the Jane Doe has never been located, preventing dental examination and the possibility of a traditional facial reconstruction.[3]


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.[4] 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.[5]


Initial findings[edit]

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.[6] 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.[1] The Missouri Botanical Garden performed mold tests on her body which determined she had been killed within five days of her discovery.[1]

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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9][10]

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.[11]

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.[12] 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.[11]

2013 exhumation[edit]

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.[13][14][15] 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.[16]

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.[1] 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.[1] 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.[3][11]

After the exhumation, the remains were re-interred at Calvary Cemetery in the Garden of Innocents, a section of the cemetery designated for unidentified decedents.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Byers, Christine (21 January 2014). "Research unlocks some secrets about decapitated girl for St. Louis detective". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  2. ^ Perkarsky, Michelle (17 June 2013). "Authorities try to locate body of girl, killed & beheaded 30 years ago". Fox4KC. Fox. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Jane Doe 1983". National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  4. ^ McClellan, Bill (1983). "Decapitated body of girl found in basement". Post-Dispatch News. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  5. ^ Corbin, Christina (23 June 2013). "Who was she? New technology brings hope to identifying headless girl killed 30 years ago". Fox News. Fox. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  6. ^ Garrison, Chad (1 December 2004). "The Case That Haunts". Riverfront Times. Riverfront Times, LLC. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  7. ^ "Case File 54UFMO". The Doe Network. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  8. ^ "Victim of Beheading was Sexually Assaulted". Globe-Democrat. National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  9. ^ Grollmus, Denise (4 November 2009). "In 1983, a Young Girl Was Assaulted and Decapitated. Police Still Don't Know Who She Is". True Crime Report. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  10. ^ Byers, Christine (17 March 2013). "New hope in cold case of decapitated girl found in St. Louis, but now where's the body?". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  11. ^ a b c Bryan, Bill (4 March 2013). "30 years later, unsolved case of young 'Jane Doe' still haunts police". The Beacon. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  12. ^ "NamUs UP # 3199". National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. 29 January 2009. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  13. ^ Byers, Christine (17 March 2013). "New hope in cold case of decapitated girl found in St. Louis, but now where's the body?". Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  14. ^ Regnier, Chris and Washington, Shirley (17 June 2013). "Body Of Decapitated Girl In 30-Year-Old Case Exhumed". Fox2Now. Fox. Retrieved 28 November 2014.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Levin, Sam (18 June 2013). "St. Louis Cops, Researchers Find Remains Of Slain "Jane Doe," Girl Decapitated 30 Years Ago". Riverfront News. Riverfront Times, LLC. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  16. ^ Stylianou, Abby; Abrams, Austin; Pless, Robert (2013). "Finding Jane Doe: a forensic application of 2D image calibration". 5th International Conference on Imaging for Crime Detection and Prevention (ICDP 2013). IET. 2013 (005): 1.17. doi:10.1049/ic.2013.0268. Retrieved 23 January 2015.

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