A Bone Cold Case
This is a sketch of what police think Midtown Jane Doe looked like at the time she was killed.
"Bone Cases"--police say they're the toughest cases to crack. An old murder with few clues. The killer is long gone and the victim's identity lies hidden in cryptic clues.
Police are left with a skeleton and whatever clues they can glean from the crime scene. Investigators don't have the luxury of immediately knowing if the victim had any distinguishing marks such as scars or tattoos. They often don't even know the victim's gender until forensic analysis is done.
Old murders, recently uncovered, that occured years or even decades ago are difficult to solve just by the nature of these circumstances.
The New York Police Department took on such a case in February 2003 when a skeleton was found buried in the basement of an apartment building, wrapped in a roll of carpet.
Faced with numerous dead-ends, detectives took the only avenue they could. They worked hand-in-hand with forensic scientists at the crime scene to piece together the victim's history.
Numerous clues that would often be disregarded by an untrained eye, were brought to light by painstaking scientific research.
Police assume she was a runaway who traveled to New York.
Distinct Clues Could Catch a Killer
This gold-plated ring was found on the victim's right pinky and police say the letters may spell out her initials.
From looking at the victim's teeth, forensic scientists determined that she had received good dental care through her teenage years. They assume she lived a middle to upper class lifestyle because a lot of money went into her dental work.
They also say she underwent a change in socio-economic status because several of her teeth had started to decay by the time she was killed. From that, police assume she was a runaway who traveled to New York.
The Time of the Crime?
A U.S. dime made in 1969 was found with the body so police knew she wasn't killed before then.
Various pieces of plastic were also found and pieced together. Forensics determined it was a plastic bag used to hold a brand of rat poison called Talon. The manufacturers told police that brand wasn't produced until 1979.
That still left a window of more than 20 years. Two seals were found with the body, in bad condition but still readable under a microscope. The labels were for the Lady Garment Workers Union. The union told police to look for digits and letters on the labels. From that coding, they were able to positively conclude that the murder couldn't have taken place before December 1987.
The Gold Ring
Police found a gold-plated signet ring on the victim's ring pinky. It had the letters PMCG written on the face. Were those the victim's initials? Detective Gardiner of the NYPD spent weeks on the phone with police agencies across the U.S.
He determined there were over 500 missing persons that fit the victim's description with a first name beginning with "P" and a last name beginning with "McG." Det. Gardiner had no luck identifying the victim but he hadn't hit a dead-end yet.
Jewelry experts police talked to said the initials could also be read this way: a first name beginning with "P," a middle initial of "G" and a last name beginning with "Mc". That gave Det. Gardiner a whole new set of names.
The Toy Soldier
A small plastic toy soldier was found with the victim. What kind of personal significance did it hold for the victim?
Police found scraps of plastic and determined they were from a bag used to hold rat poison.
This toy soldier was found with the body. Police aren't sure of its significance or meaning.
Two labels were found with the body and from them investigators concluded the murder couldn't have happened before December 1987.
The poster was placed in and around New York City after the victim's remains were discovered.