The Doe Case

Hello everyone! As always, thank you for all your upvotes and comments on my last post on Linda Dillard. I hope that she will be reunited with her family soon.

Today I wanted to cover another Doe case.

DISCOVERY

On the 31st of March 2008, workers were fixing a broken pipe in the basement of a Manhattan nightclub at 277 Church Street in Tribeca, New York, USA. As they destroyed the floor, they’ve uncovered a plastic bag buried underneath it. After opening it, a human skull rolled onto the floor- it turned out that it has contained skeletonized remains of a woman.

The woman was determined to be 25-35, Black and about 5’4″ (64 inch / 162 cm). Her weight, eye color and hair color couldn’t be estimated. She had a healed fracture on her tenth left rib (with non-union) and possible foot and nose phalanx fractures. Her only clothing item was a white bra and a pair of heart-shaped earings wrapped in bubblegum wrapper. Multiple coins (dated 1983 and 1984) were found near the body, as well as a small square purse or make-up bag, make-up including lipstick and mascara, a key and a lighter. It’s established that due to artifacts found with her, the lowest limit for her post mortem interval is 1984. There was no obvious trauma found on her body.

In 1984, the building hosted a restaurant called Michael’s (which was found to be violating the health code at least once). A user on websleuths managed to find out that in the 1987-88, the building was a record store called Link Records. Another user says that they believe they’ve been there on a few parties in the late 90s, and that events for Black gay women were hosted there (treat that with a grain of salt though). In 1991, the building became Bernard & Steve’s, and in 1998, it was replaced by 2 Steven 7. What’s also interesting is that building next door hosted the Harmony Theatre, which was a sex club- not a very elegant one (described as “grimy” by a few workers and old patrons), but it seems to be relatively positively remembered. In 2002, there was a construction violation related to the building, but it was dismissed. In May of 2007, a cocktail lounge called B Flat was opened in the building- this was the buisness that operated there when Jane Doe was discovered.

Another person tracked down earrings that looked similar to the ones that were found with Jane Doe- they appear to be made in the 1980 using a technique called enamel cloisogné.

CONCLUSION

There have been different exclusions for this Doe as years went on, so this case thankfully isn’t forgotten or fully cold. Doenetwork says that her DNA is available, so I think that there are high chances that she will be identified if only a genetic genealogy company will take her case on. I have high hopes.

As to who she was, I feel like she might’ve been murdered and hidden by someone who was closely tied to Michael’s, the restaurant that operated there in 1984, when Jane was possibly killed. I’d imagine that the only person that could hide her under concrete, something which would require serious ingerence into the building’s structure, had to be the owner or someone close to him, like a son.

I don’t really know who Jane could’ve been in life- there is a chance that she could be a sex worker, someone society might deem as “disposable”, so someone with a weak social network who might fall through the cracks, but I can also see her being a victim of intimate partner violence. I feel like the fact that Jane Doe was likely a Black woman also influenced the fact that the police might’ve not been as interested in solving her case. I’m also wondering, since there was no obvious trauma on her body, is it possible that she died of an overdose and was hidden?

I suppose what gets me about this case is just the span of time she likely was hidden in that basement. If we assume that she was put there around 1984, that’s 24 years she was buried there without anyone knowing and almost 40 she has been unidentifed for. The building she was in went through so many changes, with different owners and storefronts, but she remained the same, buried in the basement, without anyone knowing she was there. It’s sad to think about.

If you believe that you have any info that could identify this Jane Doe, contact the Office of Chief Medical Examiner New York City at (212) 447-2030 (case number M08-01925).

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