Cheerleader in the Trunk

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On August 24, 1982, a couple were mushroom hunting in Gambrills State Park, in the Catochin Mountains, when they came across a steamer trunk a few feet from a gravel roadway. Curious as to its contents, the pair used a rock to open the trunk and discovered a woman’s putrified remains.

The location is northwest of Frederick, Frederick County, Maryland, in an area known as the Frederick City Watershed because of the water that drains into the city’s reservoir. According to police, the trunk had been covered with sticks and leaves, but wasn’t hidden from view.


The remains were brought to the medical examiner’s morgue in Baltimore. As they were skeletal, it was determined the deceased died between early spring 1982 and up to 10 years prior. However, it’s more likely her death occurred at least three years before her body was found.

While her death has been deemed a homicide, no cause has been determined.


The deceased is described as a white female. While her initial age range was estimated to be between 17 and 45, more recent estimates have narrowed it down to between 17 and 27. She stood anywhere from 5’2″ and 5’6″, and weighed approximately 100 to 130 pounds. She had medium-length, slightly wavy dark brown hair – however, her natural hair colour may have been reddish-brown, based on pubic hair found in the trunk. Given the state of the remains, her eye colour is unknown.

There was evidence of extensive dental work, some of which is consistent with being performed by dental students. This included two crowns on her front left teeth, a root canal and numerous silver fillings. She also had one gold-filled tooth on her right upper side.

There was evidence of previous feet and back injuries, and her bones showed signs of spondylolysis. The condition results from a defect in the connection between vertebrae and can lead to stress fractures that weaken the bones. It’s most common in children and teenagers who participate in such sports as dance, gymnastics and cheerleading.

In 1983, an anthropologist who analyzed the bones made the following observations:

  • She was slender limbed and broad-hipped, meaning she was likely in her early 20s.
  • Her family had been in the United States for at least three generations.
  • Each of her ribs had a small ridge along the upper surface.
  • Her broad skull base and fully-round pelvis indicated she was well-nourished, meaning she was likely from a middle-class family or had worked on a farm.
  • She had two skewed wisdom teeth, which would have been very painful.
  • Nearly all of her teeth showed fillings, and two of her front teeth were capped.

For unspecified reasons, investigators believe she was possibly last seen alive within a 100-mile radius of the watershed.


1) Andrea Jean Coyle, who went missing from Altoona, Pennsylvania on December 19, 1978.

2) Anne D.V. Manchester, who went missing from Newark, Delaware on June 29, 1980.

3) Barbara Annette McClure, who went missing from Seattle, Washington on November 2, 1978.

4) Betty Marie Roberts, who went missing from Baltimore, Maryland on November 3, 1959.

5) Emma Lorene Vaughn, who went missing from Orlando, Florida on July 10, 1972.

6) Gina Renee Hall, who went missing from Radford, Virginia on June 28, 1980.

7) Jeanne Marie Scrima, who went missing from Knox, New York on March 19, 1980.

8) Judith Erin O’Donnell, who went missing from Baltimore, Maryland on November 30, 1980.

9) Katherine O’Neil Anderson, who went missing from Annapolis, Maryland on April 20, 1979.

10) Kathleen Durst, who went missing from Manhattan, New York on January 31, 1982.

11) Marie Ann Blee, who went missing from Craig, Colorado on November 21, 1979.

12) Maureen Russell Baca, who went missing from Adelanto, California on August 21, 1982.

13) Michele Reidenbach, who went missing from Zelienople, Pennsylvania on October 6, 1981.

14) Michelle Busha, who went missing from Bay City, Texas in December 1979. Her remains were discovered in Blue Earth, Minnesota in 1980, but were not identified until March 2015.

15) Nancy Marlene Snow, who went missing from Annapolis, Maryland on November 6, 1980.

16) Rachael Elizabeth Garden, who went missing from Newton, New Hampshire on March 22, 1980.

17) Sherry Melissa Eyerly, who went missing from Salem, Oregon on July 4, 1982.

18) Susan Diane Wolff Cappel, who went missing from Newcomerstown, Ohio on March 16, 1982.

19) Valerie Lorraine Cuccia, who went missing from Brooklyn, New York on May 7, 1974.

20) Zita Cecilia Gutierrez, who went missing from Bethesda, Maryland on August 23, 1980.


Jane Doe’s dentals are available for comparison.

Those with information regarding the identity of Jane Doe are asked to contact the Frederick Police Department at either 301-600-2100 or 301-600-2101. Tips can also be called into the Maryland Chief Medical Examiner at 410-333-3250.

Image Credit: NCMEC/Judy Reimer

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