Bel Alton, MD – Charles County Sheriff’s detectives are appealing to the public for help in identifying a woman whose body was discovered 25 years ago, on June 16, 1998. The victim, whose identity remains unknown, was found in a field near Irving Road and Route 301. The case has been classified as a homicide, and investigators have worked tirelessly to solve it.

Since discovering the victim’s body, detectives assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division and investigators from the Forensic Science Section (FSS) have collaborated with allied agencies and forensic partners nationwide to identify the woman. Despite their dedicated efforts, her identity has remained a mystery.

Over the years, the Sheriff’s Office has utilized various resources and advanced technologies to aid in the identification process. In 2005, a facial reconstruction was completed and widely circulated. In 2014, the FSS sought assistance from the Department of Homeland Security’s Biometric Support Center, hoping to identify the victim through her fingerprints.

The investigation also involved the expertise of Dr. Erin Kimmerle, an Anthropologist at the University of South Florida, who conducted isotopic analysis on the victim’s remains in 2014. Although the analysis did not yield an identification, it provided valuable information about her origins. The data suggested that she was born in the northeastern region of the United States, most likely a local of Maryland.

In 2021, the FSS collaborated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division/Latent and Forensic Support Unit for another attempt at identifying the victim through her fingerprints, this time using the FBI’s Next Generation Identification. The Sheriff’s Office’s Latent Specialists continue to compare available fingerprint databases with those of missing persons to uncover a match potentially.

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Advancements in DNA methods have also played a crucial role in the investigation. Multiple attempts have been made to develop a suitable DNA profile of the victim. Currently, a mitochondrial DNA profile is available in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) for potential comparison if a maternal relative comes forward seeking identification.

The FSS remains committed to exploring new technologies that could provide additional DNA profiles for comparison and potential identification. “Our goal is to work with our forensic partners in hopes of applying advanced testing methods to this case and giving a name to ‘Jane Doe’,” said Noelle Gehrman, Deputy Director of the CCSO’s Forensic Science Section.

Here are important details about the victim and the ongoing investigation:

  • The victim was a black female between 25 and 35 at the time of her death.
  • She stood between 5’4″ and 5’7″ and weighed approximately 115 to 135 lbs.
  • She had a light complexion and no discernible scars, marks, or tattoos.
  • It is possible that she had connections to local businesses in the area where her body was found.
  • If alive today, she would be between 50 and 65 years old.

During the course of the investigation, a tipster reached out to the Charles County Crime Solvers Tip Line. Detectives are urging the tipster, whose assigned tip number is 473-M3730, to contact them again.

Anyone with information regarding this case is urged to contact Detective Christopher Shankster at 301-932-3037. Those who wish to remain anonymous may contact Charles County Crime Solvers by calling 1-866-411-TIPS. To encourage cooperation, Crime Solvers and the CCSO have joined forces to offer a combined cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest or indictment in this case.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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