DDP UPDATE – Cold cases that will probably be solved in 2021!!!

Last week, the DNA Doe Project released an update regarding the John and Jane Doe cases that they’re working on. Thanks to a recent change to Gedmatch’s terms of service, these Doe cases now have many more matches than before, and some of them seem destined to be identified by the end of this year. As a result, I decided to make a video covering all of the Doe cases from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s which seem likely to be solved in 2021, and there’ll be a second video soon on cases from the 2000s and 2010s as well. Below is a link to the video and a transcript of it here – hope you find the news just as uplifting as I did!

Bedford Jane Doe

October 6, 1971 – A hunter in Bedford, New Hampshire discovered the body of a woman in a wooded area near a logging road. It’s believed that the woman died around 3 months before her body was found, and although a cause of death could not be established, foul play is suspected, owing to the secluded nature of the area her body was found in. Over the last 50 years, investigators have produced new sketches and busts of Bedford Jane Doe in the hope that someone would recognise them, but nothing has come of this so far. All that’s known is that she was likely between 20 and 40 years old when she died, and that the clothes she was wearing hint at a possible link to Canada. But after the DNA Doe Project, otherwise known as the ‘DDP’, took on the case and uploaded her DNA profile to Gedmatch, they found a relative of hers with whom she shares 160 centimorgans – or ‘cM’ – of DNA, meaning they’re likely her 2nd cousin 1x removed, or a similar relationship in that range. For reference, the DDP recently announced that they’d identified another homicide victim called Live Oak Doe, whose closest genetic match shared only 106cM of DNA with them. This shows that it’s perfectly possible to identify someone with a match of that calibre, and although this might take longer to solve than some of the other cases in this video, I suspect that Bedford Jane Doe will have been identified by the end of 2021.

Nation River Lady

May 3, 1975 – In Casselman, a small town in Ontario, a farmer found a woman’s body floating down the South Nation River. Her hands and ankles had been tied up and she’d been strangled to death with a television cable, before being thrown off a bridge into the river. She’s estimated to have been between 25 and 50 years old when she died, and may have had Irish heritage, but for over 45 years now no one has been able to identify her. However, after the DDP uploaded the Nation River Lady’s DNA profile to FTDNA, they found that she shared a massive 445cM of DNA with someone in the database – likely a 1st cousin 1x removed, or around that range. This means that the Nation River Lady is within touching distance of being reunited with her name, and I expect that she’ll be identified very soon, if she hasn’t been already.

Grundy County Jane Doe

October 2, 1976 – On the side of a highway in Seneca, Illinois, a farmer and his granddaughter discovered the body of a woman in a ditch. She’d been shot in the back of the head and was completely naked, except for a sweater tied around her head. Although police have spent decades trying to identify her, they didn’t have much success until the DDP took on the case, at which point leads began rolling in. They discovered that she was probably born between 1948 and 1960, her parents may well have come from Selma and she was likely descended from the Calhoun and Harris families. They also found a close relative of hers, likely a niece or first cousin, living in Alabama, but it appears that her biological family may have been unaware of her existence, which makes identifying her trickier. Still, with everything they know, it looks like the DDP are closing in on Grundy County Jane Doe’s identity, so I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to confirm it by the end of the year.

Kern County Jane Doe

July 14, 1980 – In Delano, California, the body of a woman was discovered in an almond orchard. She had been sexually assaulted and murdered, with the man responsible later being identified as Wilson Chouest, who was convicted of killing her, and another woman, in 2018. Although their killer is now in prison, neither woman has been identified, which led to the DDP taking on their cases a few years ago. Since then, they’ve made significant progress in identifying Kern County Jane Doe – it’s now known that she was of partial indigenous Canadian ancestry, with one of her ancestors being a member of the Cree Nation, and she also has a match on FTDNA with whom she shares 239cM of DNA, so they may well be a 2nd cousin of hers. The DDP have been working on this case for quite a while now, but with such a high match to work with, it seems plausible that this’ll be the year that Kern County Jane Doe gets her name back.

Pulaski County Jane Doe

May 25, 1981 – Law enforcement agents near Dixon, Missouri recovered the body of a woman from a low-water crossing. She had only died around 24 hours prior to her discovery, and had been murdered by an unknown assailant, having been strangled to death. She was estimated to be between 25 and 40 years old, and it’s believed that she grew up in the south east of the United States, based on isotope testing. However, these clues alone have not been enough to identify her so far, which led to the DDP taking on her case and finding a solid lead in the form of a 273cM match on Gedmatch, likely a 2nd cousin or in that range. The DDP have not uploaded her DNA data to FTDNA, which suggests that her Gedmatch matches are proving sufficient enough to identify her, so this is another case I’d expect to be solved this year.

Mowry Wetlands Jane Doe

October 24, 1985 – In a field in Newark, California, the remains of a young woman were found in a field next to Mowry Avenue, which led to the moniker ‘Mowry Wetlands Jane Doe’. She was a murder victim, having been shot dead around 6 months before her body was discovered, though the motive for her killing isn’t yet known. At the time she died, she was probably between 30 and 36 years old, and although she’s spent the 36 years since without a name, this year seems destined to be the last. After her DNA was uploaded to FTDNA, a match in the database came up as sharing 486cM of DNA with her, so probably a 1st cousin 1x removed or a relationship in that range. This is a very strong match for the seasoned genealogists at the DDP to work with so, surprises aside, I’m confident that Mowry Wetlands Jane Doe will be identified this year.

Charlene Doe

August 5, 1988 – The charred remains of a man and a woman were found in the Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area in Morocco, Indiana. A year after the discovery, the male victim was identified as Selassie Sherrod Jr., but the identity of the female victim is still unknown. There’s been speculation that she was linked to criminal activities, and that these activities are what led to her murder, but little else is known about her, other than that she was between 18 and 45 years old when she died. But since the DDP uploaded her DNA profile to Gedmatch, more details have emerged – her admixture report shows that she was of African heritage, as previously thought, and that she has a match of 335cM with someone in the database – probably in the 1st cousin 1x removed to 2nd cousin relationship range. The DDP have already solved 6 cases since the start of the year, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Charlene Doe is identified within the coming months as well.

Marion County John Doe

July 19, 1989 – The body of a man was discovered entangled in weeds on the bank of a creek in Caledonia, Ohio. The body had lain there for 3 weeks and had decomposed significantly in that time, so a cause of death could not be identified, but a mark on his neck, alongside other details, have led investigators to believe he was murdered. It’s also believed that he was between 22 and 40 years old at the time of his death, and that he wasn’t local to the area, as any disappearance would’ve been noted in such a small community. Whether or not these details are true will likely be confirmed at some point in the coming months, as the DDP have found a 420cM match for him on FTDNA, after uploading his DNA profile to their database. This match is probably a 1st cousin 1x removed, or somewhere in that range, and with a match this high it should be fairly easy to identify Marion County John Doe by the end of this year.

New Britain Jane Doe

October 11, 1991 – A surveying crew in New Britain, Connecticut found the decomposed remains of a woman in multiple garbage bags, across from the vacant Fafnir Bearing Plant. Like nearly all the other people featured in this video, she had been murdered, having been shot in the head earlier that year, and unfortunately her killer still hasn’t been found. Before the DDP took on her case, investigators weren’t even sure of her ethnicity, but it’s now known that she was of Puerto Rican heritage with specific ties to the city of Moca. She also has a 254cM match on Gedmatch, likely in the 2nd cousin range, so while the relative inaccessibility of Puerto Rican records might make her identification trickier, it’s still very much possible that she’ll be identified this year.

Apache Junction Jane Doe

August 6, 1992 – A man walking his dog in Apache Junction, Arizona found the body of a young woman in a desert area near a dirt road. Her remains had been there for around 3 to 5 weeks prior to the discovery of her body, and the extent of the decomposition meant that a cause of death could not be determined. A student fare token valid for the Phoenix Transit System was found in her pocket, but that lead ended up fizzling out, and the case soon went cold. However, the DDP took on the case in 2018, and have since found out much more about her origins – for one thing, we now know that she was mixed race, with one parent of Mexican heritage and one parent of African American heritage, with roots in Virginia. On top of this, an 184cM match to her has been found on Gedmatch, with this person likely being in the 2nd cousin 1x removed range, so hopefully this will be enough for them to finally identify her after nearly 30 years of anonymity.

Tukwila Doe

January 8, 1997 – The excavation of a new home in Tukwila, Washington was interrupted when skeletal remains were discovered on the site. It’s suspected that the remains could be of another victim of the prolific serial killer Gary Ridgway, though at the time of the discovery the only conclusion that investigators could draw was that the remains were of an adult female. However, in a surprising twist, NamUs recently altered its profile for Tukwila Doe to list the gender as ‘Male’, rather than ‘Female’, so it seems that DNA testing has revealed the Doe’s biological sex to be male. Women’s lace underwear was found near the remains, so it’s possible that the victim was a trans woman, but not much is known about the circumstances at present. This seems unlikely to last for long though, as the DDP have revealed that they’ve found a 489cM match for Tukwila Doe on Gedmatch – a match larger than any of the other cases featured in this video. This match is likely in the 1st cousin 1x removed range, which is likely close enough for the DDP to identify Tukwila Doe with relative ease, and an announcement will hopefully be forthcoming by the end of the year.

If anyone wants to help solve more John and Jane Doe cases, please consider uploading your DNA to Gedmatch or FTDNA – there are instructions on how to upload your DNA below.

Gedmatch – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BcwsSv1eVU&t=11s

FTDNA – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5lrYbbkjpE

If anyone’s interested in finding out more, here are some links to articles on the DNA Doe Project and forensic genealogy as a whole:

https://www.9news.com/article/news/crime/denver-girl-wendy-stephens-green-river-killer-victim/73-cb7652ba-31b9-49e1-89f8-34448ac2760c

https://www.9news.com/article/news/crime/denver-girl-wendy-stephens-green-river-killer-victim/73-cb7652ba-31b9-49e1-89f8-34448ac2760c

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9245413/Idaho-man-55-pleads-guilty-1996-murder-teen-innocent-man-spent-20-years-prison.html

Latest posts