They Deserve to Have Their Names Back

by Tiffany | March 22, 2022 6:01 am

There is always so haunting about someone whose identity is lost to the world, someone who is in a grave with no name and only known as John or Jane Doe. I wonder if anyone reported them missing or if anyone cares. In some cases, especially before the 90s, when someone was reported as a runaway, no one cared to look, family or law enforcement. In other cases, they were reported, but nothing was found because of how law enforcement operated. As someone who is critical of police, this is not meant to be critical of them since there was no national database, agencies didn’t work together, and because of DNA and forensic and modern advances, things have gotten better in that regard. Luckily, times have changed, but sadly people have not, and so many people need their names back.

Trigger Warning: the details in the case are very disturbing. There are mentions of the states of decomposition, the state of remains, violence, child abuse, child neglect, and murder. I have some details of what happened with the remains, so if this is a trigger, please be warned, I will not go into too many details, but it still needs to be mentioned.

On August 24, 1991, in Munford, Alabama, there was the discovery of John Doe 3471UMAL. His cause of death was homicide, and it was believed to have been days before the discovery of his body. He was found in a ditch off of Jenifer Road, wrapped in a blanket. The state of remains where not in a recognizable state, and the decomposition was already in a state of putrefaction. All we know about him was that he was black, with black hair brown eyes, and his left ear was pierced. His height and weight were measured at 5’9 & 125lb. Still, considering he was in decomposition, that may not be completely accurate while he was alive.

His fingerprints were not available, and it’s unknown about his dental records or DNA, but I do feel like they should have been able to get DNA from his remains. It had only been in the elements for a short time, and it was close to fall, and global warming wouldn’t have been as hot as it would be in today’s world.

Clothing found on him was black trousers with large plastic buttons in the waistband. The inside label said, “Index Men, 67% rayon 32% nylon, waist 31, made in Taiwan”. He had boxer typer underwear, a size 32 medium, and a black and white abstract pattern. While the clothing found near him was a green pullover shirt that read “Slammer USA 12:44” and the inside label said “Slammer USA Medium.” Slammer is not a brand I have ever heard of, so I did some research about them to see it if it was a regional brand or national brand and based from what I found it seemed to be national as their parent company was Munsing Wear. Munsing Wear was located in Minnesota and started in the 1800s. Their 1983 magazine was printed by Vassarette, which is located in Jacksonville, Florida, and now is under a different name.

More Clothing that was near him was a white pullover with red and gray stripes, a pink pullover that had the inscription “Bugle Boy Authentic Lifestyle” on the left front, and a short-sleeve blue pullover with thin white horizontal lines, and with the label saying “”Trent Trent Trent sport.” All four pullovers were found inside out, and that is how they arrived at the morgue. The earring he had was a gold-colored metal, and the description labeled it as an earbob, which seems to be slang for an earring as far as I can tell.

Other items found were the blanket that he was wrapped in, a reddish-brown, and an automatic electric blanket. Then a fitted sheet that was blue, light blue, and white and was inscribed with “Queen’s Bed Springmade 50% combed cotton/50% kodel polyester No-Iron Percale.” It also had reddish-brown stains, and I would hope that if it was blood.
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When a 17-year-old student decided to skip school on April 15, 1997, discovering a dismembered body was not on his checklist as they discovered John Doe 1702UMAL. In Marshall County, Alabama, it was in a remote area that would only be able to be found by locals, which is why the Sheriff’s Office believes the perpetrator was someone from the area. Still, they don’t think that was the case for the victim. The remote location was northwest of Arab in a creek off of Eagle Rock Drive.

The body was in an advanced stages of decomposition and said to have been mummified. He was only dumped in the area where he was found. He was also found without his head, feet, and hands, and none of them were ever recovered. It’s believed that they were removed by a saw to stop law enforcement from being able to identify him. His heart and spleen were always used, but the medical examiner believed it was removed with medical skill, pointing to the murderer being in the medical field. Investigators thought they were removed because that was where the man was wounded and to destroy evidence. The victim’s legs were also tied up with rope and wire.

So, the body’s decomposition didn’t happen where he was found. It happened to where he was before being placed at the dumpsite. Detectives believe that the remains couldn’t have been there more than 3 days. The estimated date of death was placed at possibly a week before he was found, and his cause of death was said to have been either shot or stabbed. There was an indication that he had been redressed.

Based on snapshot analysis, Parabon believes that he was roughly 20-28 years old, while the old estimate had him at 19-34. Parabon also used his DNA to phenotype his and give the most likely description of him and his ancestry. He was 95.44% North European, light brown/fair skin 44.4%, blue/green eyes 98.7%, blond/brown hair 97.9%, and freckles at few/some 50%. These traits are more likely to be accurate. Still, they shouldn’t be taken as the 100% truth, DNA traits predicted me to not have freckles, and while as an adult I don’t, as a child I had a ton, and that my hair type was medium thickness and wavey, it’s not. However, this is much more than we had before, and it’s more likely than not to be correct since that is how phenotypes work.

He was also believed to have been 5’9, his weight was measured at 120lb, his body hair was strawberry blond, with sandy or reddish. His DNA has been entered into CODIS, and because of how his remains were found, fingerprints nor dental were available. Distant cousins have been found; however, they did not know the victim, but law enforcement remain hopeful that additional relatives will pop up. The rope was tested for touch DNA, but there have been no leads.

Three days before the discovery of the victim, some witnesses remember seeing an early 1900’s model maroon Chevy truck that had tinted windows in the area being driven by a white man. He was seen leaving near the place the remains were found. The witness said that he was acting nervous.

The clothing found on the body was a blue, green, and gray vertically striped Faded Glory short-sleeved pullover shirt and Levi Strauss 501 blue jeans sized 32×30. Which Levi’s are not only one of the most popular brands of blue jeans. Even back then, 501s were their most popular style. Then Faded Glory was a very popular brand sold in many places, including Walmart.

It’s believed that he was never reported to be missing.
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On January 28, 2012, when Jane Doe 1601UFAL’s partial skull was found by a resident of the Brook Haven Trailer Park off on Hurst Street in Opelika, Alabama. This Jane Doe is also more widely known as the Opelika Jane Doe. A Resident had been watching dishes when she noticed that a dog was playing with what she thought was a baby doll head until she realized it wasn’t and contacted the police. A few days later, they found the lower jaw, other skeletal remains, and some hair in the surrounding wooded area. Her toro, limbs, hand were not recovered, and what had been found was found only 20-50 yards from where the partial skull was discovered.

When the medical examiner performed the autopsy, it was reported that the bones belonged to a 4-7-year-old who was malnourished. One of the ways that they could tell that was that her teeth seemed to be too small for her skull. The report about the victim also said that she had suffered from repeated physical abuse, which included broken bones, fractures, and other injuries that have not been treated medically. She also suffered from neglect for years. Her injuries included abuse to her left eye, which would have left her blind in that eye, and it would have been scarred. This would have been obvious to anyone who would have come in contact with her, and law enforcement believes this information is essential because they hope it could play a part in identifying her. The experts believe that the abuse to her left eye happened months to a year before her death.

There was an isotope test done on her, but take these results with a grain of salt as they are not always reliable, but they are always better than nothing. The test results said she could have been from Alabama, Northern Florida, Central Florida, Central Texas, Eastern Texas, Southern Arkansas, Louisana, Southern Mississippi, Georgia, or South Carolina. The test also revealed that she possibly lived in an area with a high lead level when she was between the ages 1-3 but moved to an area with none. However, law enforcement has received a creditable tip that lead them to believe that the victim is either from the Orlando, Florida area or has ties there.

Near the remains in the wooded area, there was a pullover shirt found, it was long-sleeved and pink with heart buttons, and it had small ruffles near the neckline. However, it is unknown if the shirt belongs to her. It’s believed that her murder happened eight months to two years before she was found. The state of her remains was not recognizable, she was black hair, and it was stated that she had cornrows and tight small curls. Her fingerprints were not unavailable, it’s unknown about her dental, but her DNA is available.

In 2016, someone came forward to the police as they recognized the victim as someone they believed who had attended the vacation bible school at the Greater Peace Church in Opelika in 2011. It’s worth noting that the church was only about 2-3 miles away from where her remains were found, and considering the photos shared from that event, I do 100% that was her. However, no one at the church remembers her name, and the records for people who went there are only kept for a few years, and during 2016, they would have already let them go. During this period, people from the area said that many people used vacation bible school as a free babysitting service. There would have been a bus that went around the neighborhood to pick up any children who wanted to go. So, she would not have had to be a regular at the go to it, and there would have been many more kids than average. I still question why only one person came forward, though.

Law enforcement believes that her killers are likely from the area. In January of this year, the Police department has teamed up with Othram to explore using her DNA to do advanced testing on a forensic grade scale and build a genealogic profile. Police have recruited a well-known genetic genealogist to identify relatives and other leads that could help identify her.
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It was 9:45 am on July 31, 2020, when Law Enforcement was called to the scene where a fisherman who had been boating found Jane Doe’s 1588UFAL body floating in the Flint Creek. The creek is connected to the Tennesse River and not far from their border. This creek was at the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge in Decatur, Alabama.

There is not much we know about her except that her DNA is available and has been run for matches, but nothing has been found yet. They are looking into relatives for her. Law enforcement also said that the victim did not match any missing persons at that time. However, that is confusing to me, considering they don’t know that much about her. They could not determine her race, hair color, or eye color. Then they could only estimate her height at 5’8 – 6’0, her weight at 100lb to 140lb, and her age at 25-50. That is not a lot to go on.

They could only estimate her date at some time in 2020, that is a whole possible six months. Her autopsy was inconclusive, so they don’t know the cause of death, which means it could be she fell and couldn’t swim out, or could mean murder. We just don’t know. The state of her remains was that the decomposition was already in a state of putrefaction. There is it. My guess if I had to give one, I would guess she was on the younger side because of the weight, or the weight was an indication of drug use. However, neither of them are good guesses as we don’t know much about this case.
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So, are there any John or Jane Doe cases that you are following and want to be solved? Let me know about it. Personality I am always following a lot of cases. The two most famous ones I am following are The Somerton Man, who they have recently taken a DNA sample from in hopes of identifying him, and The Isdal Woman, who had anything that could possibly identify her removed, but also recently there was an updated facial depiction of her released. Also, recently the identity of the Jane Doe named Little Miss Nobody, as a kidnapped four-year-old Sharon Lee Gallegos, she was reported by her family, but because this was 1960 and she was taken from Alamogordo, New Mexico, and her remains were found in Congress, Arizona Law enforcement wasn’t able to make a connection. Othram was instrumental in identifying her.

Organizations like Othram/DNASolves and Parabon all work on cases like these. Sometimes, they crowdfund to help give these people their names back. In Othram/DNASolves case, they crowdfunded to be able to identify Sharon and Parabon as a site called JusticeDrive that they ask for donations from, and Othram/DNASolves allows you to fund a particular case. Othram/DNASolves also allows you to upload your own DNA profile to help them use genetic genealogy. While Parabon has what is called Snapshot research that anyone can upload their DNA profile and download an app to help them. There is also GEDmatch that is used to identify victims and perpetrators.

I knew I had to get out a blog post today since it is my birthday. 🙂

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