By Melody Vallieu
TROY — A 35-year-old murder case that has haunted local law enforcement for more than three decades is receiving new interest.
The unidentified female homicide victim, dubbed “Jane Doe,” was found 35 years ago on April 24, 1981, in a ditch along Greenlee Road located west of Troy, and had been deceased less than two days before she was found.
Miami County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy said the murder has always remained an open case.
“We now have a third generation of detectives working the case,” Duchak said. “Somewhere there is a family who does not know what happened to a loved one and we would like to get her identified to bring closure to the family and help put us on the path of finding her killer.”
The female, at the time of her death, is estimated to have been in her late teens to early 20s. She was approximately 5 foot 6 inches and weighed 125 pounds. She had long reddish-brown hair that was styled in two side braids with a part down the middle. The female appears Caucasian with a ruddy complexion with freckles on her face. The female had several scars: one beneath her chin, one on her left arm, two on her left wrist, right hand, right ankle and right foot. The female had also been treated by a dentist in life as her top right central incisor had a porcelain-metal crown.
The female was found clothed, wearing bell bottom blue jeans, a brown turtleneck sweater with an orange crisscross design on the front, and a handmade tan buckskin pull-over jacket with leather fringe around the seams with a deep purple lining.
In February of this year, Miami County Sheriff’s Office detectives, working with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, provided forensic scientists with case information on Jane Doe, who then conducted a facial reconstruction with new technology and additional lab testing on the clothing. Miami County Sheriff’s Office detectives sent the clothing recovered from Jane Doe to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Southwest Regional Science Center in Houston, Texas, to test pollen collected from the clothing.
Advancements in technology are used when possible to learn more about cold cases such as Jane Doe’s, according to Duchak, who said the homicide case of Yolanda DeBarge is the only other unsolved murder case outstanding in the county.
“Detectives are always working with the forensic folks and anytime we learn of advances in or new technologies that can reveal additional evidence we submit for further testing,” he said.
On April 24, Duchak said the Miami County Sheriff’s Office received lab results from the pollen testing on the clothing. Pollen analysis of the clothing recovered on the female suggest that she was from or spent a significant amount of time in the northeastern dry-oak forest region, which includes areas in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. A high level of soot from vehicle traffic and/or industrial activity was also found on her clothing, suggesting that she spent a significant amount of time in an urban area within the Northeastern region or possibly from hitchhiking. Some pollen grains in excellent condition, from a more arid region in the western U.S. or northern Mexico, were found on the outer layers of her clothing, including her jeans and jacket. This suggests that the female traveled to an arid region in the western U.S. or northern Mexico shortly before she was killed. Additional testing will be performed in the near future in an attempt to narrow the region/location of the country the unidentified female may have been from, he said.
Duchak said Jane Doe’s information is listed in several missing person data banks, including A.F.I.S., the national finger print database, and C.O.D.I.S., the national DNA database. Duchak said the National Missing & Exploited Children’s Network is now going to push out a release in the northeast party of the country, based on the new information linking her to other geographical areas.
If anyone recognizes or has any information in regards to Jane Doe’s identity, contact Detective Steve Hickey with the Miami County Sheriff’s Office at (937) 440-3965, Ext. 6629, or the Miami County Communication Center at (937) 440-9911.