*UPDATE: The Yonkers Jane Doe has been identified as 31-year-old Meresa Hammonds.*
On June 27, 1992, a worker from I Love Pizza at 1288 Midland Avenue in Yonkers, Westchester County, New York discovered the dismembered body of an unidentified female down an alley behind the pizzeria. The various body parts were discovered in plastic bags within a dumpster.
The area where the remains were found is located behind a small shopping centre, about one block from the New York Thruway.
Upon Jane Doe’s body being brought in for examination, it was determined she had died one day prior by homicide. Both of her arms had been cut off at the shoulders and her right leg had been severed. As well, her head had a gaping hole in the back, which looked to have been caused by an axe-like weapon.
It was undetermined if she had been sexually assaulted.
Jane Doe is described as white, although some have speculated she could have possibly been Hispanic, and is believed to have been 28 to 42 years old at the time of her death. She stood at 5’7″ and likely weighed anywhere from 115 to 140 pounds. Her short hair was dark brown in colour and she had hazel eyes. It’s been noted that pubic hair was present on the body.
When found, Jane Doe was wearing a short-sleeved light blue jean jacket and a size 32A white bra. Both of her ears were pierced, and the toenails on her left foot had been painted with a bright red nail polish. Given her remaining limbs have never been recovered, it’s unknown if her fingernails or her right toenails also had nail polish on them.
Jane Doe had numerous distinguishing marks on her body. The back of her right shoulder featured a green tattoo of a butterfly with blue decorative dots. As well, she had two caesarean scars, inferring she had given birth at least once in her lifetime. The first ran vertically down her lower abdomen and the second ran transverse along the supra pubic region. She also had a scar on the mid-portion of her left thigh.
It’s believed Jane Doe may have been a transient, since she wasn’t reported missing.
It’s been confirmed that she was one of serial killer Robert Shulman’s victims. The 42-year-old postal worker was known to pick up prostitutes in the area of Jamaica Avenue and 201st Street in Hollis, Queens and take them back to his apartment at 11 Glow Lane in Hicksville, Long Island. He would then engage in recreational drug use with them and force them to perform oral sex on him before he bludgeoned and dismembered their bodies. He would then dispose of their remains in garbage bins throughout Long Island and Yonkers.
Shulman was active between 1991 and 1995, and Jane Doe is believed to have been one of his first victims. He confessed to the crime after his arrest on April 6, 1996, saying he took her back to his apartment, where they used crack cocaine. At some point, he blacked out and when he woke up he saw Jane Doe was dead on the floor. He then cut off her arms and her right leg with a hacksaw before disposing of her body in a dumpster behind the pizzeria.
Jane Doe is one of two victims to have been dumped in Yonkers. Shulman also admitted to killing three prostitutes from the Suffolk County area.
Shulman was initially sentenced to death in relation to another murder, but his sentence was later changed to life without parole after New York overturned the death penalty in 2004. On April 13, 2006, he passed away of natural causes in prison.
CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:
Jane Doe’s DNA and dentals are available for comparison.
Those with information regarding the identity of Jane Doe are being asked to contact the Westchester County Medical Examiner’s Office at either 914-231-1600 or 914-231-4405. Tips can also be called into the Suffolk County Police Department at 914-377-7725 or the Yonkers Cold Case Unit at 914-377-7731.
Image Credit: Carl Koppelman/News 12 Westchester