At 6:40pm on October 10, 1973, Lebanon County deputy game protectors Lloyd Pfautz and Richard Bucks were patrolling State Route 443 near Jonestown, Pennsylvania when they smelt what they believed to be a poached and decaying deer. As poaching was an issue in the area, they pulled over and wandered into the woods.
They walked 200 yards, by the intersection of Ridge Road and Tomstown Road in the Five Points area of Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, and came upon the nude body of a deceased female. The upper part of her torso and her head showed the greatest evidence of decomposition, and it appeared the remains had been disturbed by scavenging animals.
The deceased was covered in tree branches, brush and a 48″ by 32.5″ piece of green plastic with a white seal, which read “National Sanitation Foundation, Testing Laboratory 8505”. It was later determined no such laboratory existed.
An autopsy was done on the remains, which found she’d died between one to three weeks prior. While her cause of death couldn’t be determined, it was deemed suspicious and likely the result of a homicide.
Marks were found on one of Jane Doe’s arms and on her leg, but it was not immediately determined if these injuries were sustained before or after death.
The deceased is described as a white female, possibly of southeast European descent. She is believed to be between the ages of 12 and 22, with recent estimates narrowing that range to between 16 and 20 years old. She stood between 5’5″ and 5’8″ tall, and her hair was long and light brown-to-strawberry-blonde-to-red in colour. Due to the state of the remains, her weight and eye colour could not be determined.
According to investigators, she had a thin nose with the bridge swayed slightly left and the tip tilted to the right. She also had large eyes, a high forehead and a strong, tilted chin. She’d had extensive dental work done, given the amount of fillings observed on her teeth. It’s believed she received regular dental care from the time she was six years old.
At the time of the discovery, it was theorized she may have been one of four girls who’d been reported missing from Talbot Hall, a nearby group home. Those working the case were able to locate all but one of the girls, Betsy Langjahr. She was later found alive.
At present, investigators are looking at the possibility Jane Doe may have been from another area and likely was a runaway, a transient or a family member of someone at the Gap. Her remains were exhumed in 2016, and chemical isotope testing done a year later with the help of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the USF Forensic Anthropology Center further confirmed this theory.
The results of the isotope analysis showed the deceased was likely born and raised in the southeastern United States, including Springfield and souther Missouri; Arkansas; central-eastern Texas; eastern Oklahoma; Louisiana; Mississippi; Tennessee; central and southern West Virginia; Alabama; Florida; Georgia; South Carolina; North Carolina; and southern and eastern Virginia, into southern Maryland and Delaware shores.
1) Rosemary E. Hamilton Buck, who went missing from Syracuse, New York on August 11, 1973.
2) Sandra Lee Hopler, who went missing from La Plume, Pennsylvania on September 29, 1973.
3) Sharon Lynn Pretorius, who went missing from Dayton, Ohio on September 28, 1973.
4) Sheryl Ann Tillinghast, who went missing from Wassaic, New York on September 24, 1973.
CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:
Jane Doe’s DNA, dentals and fingerprints are available for comparison.
Those with information regarding the identity of Jane Doe are asked to contact the Jonestown detachment of the Pennsylvania State Police at either 717-865-3647 or 717-865-2194. Tips can also be called in to the Lebanon County Coroner’s Office at 717-272-4421, or anonymously via Crime Stoppers at 1-800-473-8477.
Image Credit: Carl Koppelman/NCMEC