Artists' depictions of Popes Island Jane Doe

Popes Island Jane Doe

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At approximately 7:30am on October 30, 1996, a maintenance worker discovered the body of an unidentified female floating near Popes Island Marina in New Bedford, Bristol County, Massachusetts.

The body was wrapped in two green garbage bags held together with blue masking tape. Also with the body was a white and teal wool blanket, typically found onboard fishing boats.


An autopsy determined the deceased had died two days prior, but had likely only been in the water for around 24 hours prior to being found. It’s believed her body was dumped elsewhere and the current pushed her toward the marina.

The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head and a dozen gunshot wounds. As such, it was deemed a homicide. There were no signs of sexual assault.


The deceased is described as a White female with European features, and was likely between the ages of 30 and 45. She had a petite build, standing between 5’1″ and 5’2″ and weighing 127 pounds. Her shoulder-length hair had been dyed strawberry blonde within a month of her death – it was naturally a light brown – and her eyes were either brown or hazel.

When found, Jane Doe was wearing a Licorice mustard-coloured long-sleeve turtleneck, size medium; an Oakbrook mail-order white pullover sweater with a multi-coloured rectangular design, size medium; blue 521 Levi’s jeans; pantyhose; underwear; cotton socks; and black ankle-high Lites high-tie boots with chunky-style heels. While her ears were pierced, she wasn’t wearing any earrings. She did have, however, a gold ring with an emerald stone on her left ring finger. Likely from Belarus, the stone was surrounded by a raised gold rope-like pattern, with entwining smaller circular stones along the outside.

Her toenails were painted with polish, while her fingernails were bare. She didn’t shave her legs or underarms, but was described as being well-groomed. Other items of note include a lack of evidence of drug use and the probability she’d never given birth.

Jane Doe’s teeth showed fillings and root canals, the majority of which were likely conducted outside of the US, due to their poor quality. There was one root canal, however, that was less than five years old and appeared to have been completed by an American dentist.

Due to the Belarusian ring, her poor dental work and the fact her legs were unshaven, investigators believe the deceased may have immigrated from Eastern Europe. Visa and immigration records were checked with no results, leading them to theorize she may have entered the country illegally.


1) Colleen Voitik McHugh, who went missing from Joliet, Illinois on April 17, 1994. As of 2020, she is believed to have been located.

2) Debra A. Cressotti, who went missing from Blandford, Massachusetts on April 30, 1985.

3) Nadine Claire Timm, who went missing from Lockport, Illinois on November 16, 1965.

4) Robin Anne Vaudreuil, who went missing from Worcester, Massachusetts on April 17, 1995.

5) Tiffany Louise Sessions, who went missing from Gainesville, Florida on February 9, 1989.


Jane Doe’s dentals, fingerprints and DNA are available for comparison. Due to the belief she may have been an immigrant, her fingerprints have been sent to both the FBI and Interpol.

Those with information regarding the case are asked to contact the New Bedford Police Department at 508-991-6320 or Massachusetts State Police at 508-997-0711. Tips can also be called into the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner at 617-267-6767 ex. 187.

Image Credit: Carl Koppelman/David Wood

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