The Charles County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Science Unit (FSU) has recently made significant progress in the June 1998 case of a homicide of an unidentified woman, whose body was discovered in an overgrown area off of Irving Road in Bel Alton.
In the years since the woman’s body was discovered, CCSO detectives and members of the FSU have worked together with numerous police agencies and available resources throughout the country, but have been unable to determine the victim’s identity.
In 2005, Sgt. Don Stahl completed a facial reconstruction of the victim. The results were distributed; however, the victim was not identified.
In 2014, the FSU worked with the Department of Homeland Security’s Biometric Support Center in an attempt to identify the victim through her fingerprints; however this was unsuccessful. Earlier this year, the FSU worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division/Latent and Forensic Support Unit in another attempt to identify the victim through her fingerprints, this time through the FBI’s Next Generation Identification. This was also unsuccessful in identifying the victim. She does not appear to have had civil or criminal fingerprints taken in the past.
In August of 2014, the CCSO reached out to Dr. Erin Kimmerle, an Anthropologist at the University of South Florida, to submit the victim’s remains for isotope testing. The purpose of isotope testing is to geo-reference the mobility of an individual. In October of 2015, the Forensic Science Unit received the results of the analysis indicating that the victim was US-born from the northeast region, most likely a local of Maryland.
In June of 2015, the Forensic Science Unit submitted victim head hairs to the University of North Texas’ Center for Human Identification in the hopes that nuclear DNA could be obtained from the analysis. Results are pending. Currently there is a mitochondrial DNA profile for the victim available for comparison in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), should a maternal relative come forward seeking to identify the victim.
In July of 2015, the FSU began working with analysts at the FBI’s ViCAP (Violent Criminal Apprehension Program) Unit. With the support of the ViCAP Unit, a poster was published to the FBI’s Unidentified Person’s website and sent to countless law enforcement agencies across the country.
Additionally, a person profile has been established on the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) and is regularly updated for the victim in hopes that someone will recognize her and contact CCSO. Latent Print Specialists regularly check the system to compare the prints of missing persons to the known prints of our victim.
“Members of the Criminal Investigations Division and the Forensic Science Unit continue to be devoted to establishing the identity of the victim known only as ‘Jane Doe,’ as well as bringing to justice the individual(s) that committed the crime against her,” said Noelle Gehrman, an Evidence Technician in the FSU who has worked directly on this case. “We are hopeful that with the public’s assistance, this can be done.”
The victim is described as a black female who was between 25 and 35 years old at the time of her death. She was between 5 feet 4 inches and 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed between 115 and 135 pounds. She had a light complexion and no visible scars, marks or tattoos. Today, she would have been between 42 and 52 years old.
Anyone with information about the victim’s identity or this crime is asked to contact Charles County Crime Solvers by calling 1-866-411-TIPS, by texting CHARLES + your tip to CRIMES (274637) or by submitting a web tip. Crime Solvers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest or indictment. All individuals who provide tips through Crime Solvers will remain anonymous.