On December 20, 1976, a 14-year-old boy walking under the I-80 bridge in Carbon County, Pennsylvania noticed two suitcases lying on the ground near one of the bridge supports. Upon approaching them, he saw the sight of human remains. Alarmed, he returned home and informed his brother, who contacted the police.
Upon arriving in the area, the authorities discovered another suitcase, making the total three: one lying on the riverbank and the other two in the nearby woods. In them were the following: a head, with the ears and nose removed; a full-term fetus, deceased; arms and legs; and a torso, with the breasts cut off. Some of the remains were wrapped in newspaper, while the rest were covered in a cut up bedspread. The suitcases also contained straw and dry packing foam.
An autopsy was performed on the remains on December 23, 1976 at Gnaden Huetten Hospital in Lehighton, Pennsylvania. It was determined that the deceased, who was female, had been dead between 7 and 24 hours before being found.
Damage to the body indicated that the suitcases had been thrown off of the I-80 bridge, most likely from a moving vehicle, and that the person who dumped them was most likely aiming for the river below, but missed. As a result of the impact, two of the suitcases had broken open.
An examination of the body showed that Jane Doe had died due to strangulation. She had also been shot in the neck, but it is unknown if the gunshot occurred before or after death. The remains themselves had been dismembered with a fine, serrated tool, and the cuts showed that the killer knew their anatomy. However, they were likely not in the medical profession.
The fetus found with the body was determined to be that of Jane Doe. It had come to full term and, if alive, would have been a healthy baby girl.
Jane Doe is described as white, and is said to have been between 15 and 25 years of age. She is believed to have stood at 4’11” to 5’4″, and weighed approximately 140 to 150 pounds. She had brown hair and brown eyes, as well as the following marks: a 5.5″ scar on her left leg, just above the heel; a 2″ scar on her calf; and two moles, which may have developed during her pregnancy, one above her left eye and another on her left cheek. She had type-O blood.
According to reports, her teeth were in poor condition. She had suffered from extensive dental disease, which had improved as she got older. This resulted in three extractions, numerous restorations and severe dental decay. At the time of her death, she had been suffering from a fracture to her upper right incisors that would have caused her a lot of pain, which would have been noticeable to those around her.
Her molars had been extracted while she was in her teens, and only five of her teeth were free of both decay or restorations.
Written in ink on her left hand were the letters “WSR”, following be either a “4” or a “5”, then a “4” or a “7”. Due to smudging, the exact numbers were difficult to determine. Investigators checked license plates and CB call signs to see if they could find out anything, but they were never able to determine if the writing was of any significance. What they could tell is that it had been written approximately 8 to 12 hours earlier, and if she herself had written them, it would mean she had been right handed.
The three suitcases in which the remains were discovered were all the same size: 23″ x 14″ x 7 1/2″. All were made of vinyl material, with two of them blue in colour, with blue, red and white stripes, and the third being blue and tan plaid. Two handles had been cut off and the zippers had been painted black.
The newspaper found within the suitcases was six sections of the New York Sunday News from September 26, 1976. The bedspread was originally pink in colour, but appeared to be rust or coral-coloured due to wear and how dirty it had become. It also had an embroidered yellow flower design.
In 2007, isotope testing on Jane Doe’s bones suggested she was born in central or western Europe, and had most likely emigrated to the United States 5 to 10 years prior to her death, during either her childhood or early teen years. She was also possibly of Mediterranean heritage. It was noted that she hadn’t spent any significant time in Pennsylvania, with tests indicated she had likely spent time in the south eastern United States, spanning from Texas to Virginia, or even eastern Tennessee.
1) Annastaes Banitskas, who went missing from Melbourne, Australia on August 27, 1974.
2) Iris Brown, who went missing from Burlington, Vermont on March 15, 1976.
3) Valerie Cuccia, who went missing from Brooklyn, New York on May 7, 1974.
4) Teresa Fittin, who went missing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on August 1, 1975.
5) Teresa “Trenny” Gibson, who went missing from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee on October 8, 1976.
6) Rory Gene Kesinger, who went missing from Plymouth, Massachusetts on May 27, 1973.
7) Anna Leatherwood, who went missing from Sevierville, Tennessee on May 20, 1966.
8) Georgia Nolan, who went missing from Harlan, Kentucky on November 1, 1976.
9) Sherry Roach, who went missing from San Mateo, California on June 8, 1976.
10) Mary Robinson, who went missing from Rochester, New York on June 10, 1976.
11) Patricia Seelbaugh, who went missing from Grove City, Pennsylvania on October 26, 1973.
12) Denise Sheehy, who went missing from Queens, New York on July 7, 1970.
CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:
Jane Doe’s dentals, DNA and fingerprints are available for comparison.
Those with information regarding the identity of Jane Doe are being asked to contact the Carbon County Coroner’s Office at 570-669-9898 or Pennsylvania State Police at 570-459-3890.
Image Credit: NCMEC/The Doe Network