Volusia County John Doe (1972)

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On May 7, 1972, two motorcyclists discovered the body of an unidentified male in Daytona Beach, Volusia County, Florida. Reports vary as to the actual location of the body, with some stating he was found in a pond just off Indian Lake Road, while others say he was located on land near the pond.

The area in which the remains were found is 0.7 miles east of Indian Lake Road and approximately 2.9 miles north of US Route 92.


Upon the body being brought in for examination, it was determined John Doe had died a few days before, most likely on May 3, 1972. This finding was due to the amount of decomposition that had already occurred.

The cause of death was deemed a homicide by stabbing, as the body showed signs of violent trauma. Numerous stab wounds were observed on the body, including three to the chest and three to his left leg. The amount of stab wounds suggests that the person who committed the murder might have been enraged at the time.

While no weapon was found at the scene, it’s believed by investigators that the stab wounds were caused by a pocket knife.


When found, John Doe’s pants were hanging off one leg, which suggested to investigators that a sexual assault may have occurred. However, this has not been confirmed.

In the hopes of trying to ID the remains, John Doe’s fingers were sent to the FBI in order to try and obtain fingerprints. While they were unable to take fingerprints due to the level of decomposition, what they were able to get alluded to the likelihood that he did not have a criminal record.

A green ten-speed Schwinn bicycle was found at the scene. The investigation uncovered that it had been stolen from a home in nearby New Smyrna Beach, Florida on May 3, 1972. While police at the time concluded it likely wasn’t related to the murder, web sleuths have stated otherwise, as the location is fairly remote. This means that it would have been an unlikely coincidence for both to have been located in the area at the same time.

John Doe was laid to rest in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Daytona Beach on May 22, 1972.

On November 13, 2013, John Doe’s body was exhumed in order for investigators to perform new tests. The exhumation was approved by a judge after those with the Cold Case Unit were unable to find documents with his fingerprints or that showed any identification attempts. It was performed by a forensic team made up of students and professionals from the University of South Florida, and while digging they uncovered numerous glass jars, most of which were broken. They were able to remove one jar that was intact, which contained one of John Doe’s preserved fingers.

Upon the body being exhumed, samples were sent away to Texas in order to try and obtain DNA. However, the amount extracted was insufficient for profiling. A new facial reconstruction was also done with the help of a CT scan, to show what John Doe may have looked like whilst alive.


John Doe is described a white, and is believed to have been between 11 to 14 years old. This estimate, which came about after the 2013 exhumation, is in stark contrast to that of the initial investigation, which stated he was around 15 to 20 years of age. This previous estimate implies that he may have appeared slightly older than he actually was.

According to reports, he stood around 5’2″ and weighed approximately 120 pounds. While his eye colour is unknown, it’s said he had dark brown hair of a wavy texture. It’s also important to note that his pubic region had been shaved.

When found, John Doe was wearing a red and white striped short-sleeved pullover knit shirt; a blue denim jacket, size 32 length; brown dress socks; and one size 8 1/2 black loafer with a chrome or silver buckle on the side. He was also wearing purple and tweed pants that had been pulled down and were hanging off one leg. Inside the left rear pocket of the pants was a black wallet with paint flecks that contained $6.17.

He had two conditions, which would have been asymptomatic. The first was a benign tumour in his right leg, which is said to be common in male children. The second was a congenital condition, where the bones in his feet fused together.

A look through his dentals showed no evidence of dental work. It was noted that all 32 of his teeth were in near perfect condition and no dental fillings were observed.

Chemical isotope testing was conducted, which suggests he was born in the United States and had likely lived in Florida most of his life.

There are numerous theories regarding who John Doe was. Some believe he may have come from a juvenile detention centre located a few miles from where his body was found, while others feel he may have been someone who was in the foster system. Other theories surrounding the case include the possibility of him having been a member of a cult or commune, and him possibly having been killed by his parents.

The prevailing theory in the case is that John Doe was likely a sex worker. This is the theory held by the police and many web sleuths due to the fact his pubic region had been shaved and the way he was dressed, which was unusual for someone his age.


It’s currently not clear if John Doe’s fingerprints are available for comparison. While some sources say they are, others state differently.

Those with information regarding the identity of John Doe are asked to contact the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office at either 386-254-1537 x11425 or 386-254-4689. Tips can also be called into the Volusia County Medical Examiner’s Office at 386-258-4060.

Image Credit: NCMEC/Judy Reimer

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