BENSALEM, Pa. (CBS) — Kids in Bensalem collecting sticks for a fort found what they thought at first was a turtle shell. It turned out to be a human skull.
Twenty-six years after this discovery, detectives hope information about shirts found with this woman’s body, along with a special necklace will help them finally give Jane Doe a name and who took her life.
“She’s still a Jane Doe,” Bensalem Township Police Chris McMullin said.
In all the years since her body was discovered, her true identity has eluded investigators.
“We need to find her name,” McMullin said.
Jane Doe was found in a shallow grave in some woods behind a diner on Street Road in Bensalem Township. It was September 1995.
“It was a pretty big wooded area, and children would play there,” McMullin said. “There were a couple of kids playing and they saw what they thought was a turtle shell, and it turned out it was a human skull and that’s how she was discovered.”
McMullin says her death was classified as a homicide. The cause, asphyxiation. It’s believed she had been in that grave for almost three years. Detectives say she was killed in perhaps 1992.
“Somewhere, somebody is missing her,” McMullin said. “She had clothing. She had jewelry. According to the autopsy, she had given birth at least once. So, there is somebody out there that’s missing a mother.”
Police believe that clues could be in the clothing. There were two T-shirts found at the scene. One with the words “Alcatraz Swim Team” on the front and another shirt with the financial institution’s words “KPMG Peat Marwick.” There were also two distinctive crosses.
“Those crosses depict the stations of the cross if you look at them closely,” McMullin said. “Maybe she belonged to a parish. Maybe somebody will recognize that jewelry.”
Over the years, the case never drifted from investigators’ minds.
“In 2007, I exhumed her body,” McMullin said.
This forensic sculpture was created, showing how Jane Doe would have appeared before she was killed.
Police also obtained DNA to enter into the FBI’s CODIS program, which stands for Combined DNA Index System. That was 14 years ago.
“Fourteen years and still no hits, and that’s sad because I wish more people realized that if they had a missing loved one, that they can submit their profiles as a family reference sample,” McMullin said, “because CODIS is constantly checking the unknowns against family reference samples.”
Who is this Jane Doe?
“I keep saying, somebody has got to be missing this girl,” McMullin said.
Investigators know a parent or child can unlock that mystery.
“She deserves a proper resting place with her name on the headstone,” McMullin said. “John Doe or Jane Doe, that’s not the name they came into the world with, and we want to find out who they are and we want to give them back their identity and get them back to the family.”
If you have any information on who this woman is or can help detectives, please call the Bensalem Police Department at 215-633-3719.