Fond Du Lac County Jane Doe
On November 23, 2008, a group of unassuming hunters came upon a scene that should’ve been in a horror film; but it was real life. Submerged in a shallow creek, near an abandoned barn was the body of a once beautiful young-woman. She was frozen in the ice. Her hair suspended in place, as if it had been flowing gracefully in the water before the temperature dipped. Law Enforcement hadn’t seen anything like it. They were forced to chisel the ice surrounding the victim with extreme caution so as not to compromise any evidence. Once authorities were able to retrieve her, they found identifying her to be an even more difficult task.
The town of Ashford Wisconsin is a quiet, rural area located half way between Fond du Lac and Milwaukee. The area is not known for violent crimes therefore the discovery of the frozen young-woman was shocking to the community. The area in which the victim was discovered was and still is a secluded wooded area. Authorities have never revealed the exact location. Most likely to compare against someone with first-hand knowledge of the crime, as authorities do in fact believe Jane Doe succumbed to foul play.
Jane Doe was discovered wearing a strapless black tank top with pink trim and a pink bow that tied in the back. She was also wearing a pair of ‘Angels’ jeans that were slightly rolled up at the bottom. Her Undergarments and her clothing were traced back to the ‘Family Dollar Store’ and were only shipped out from the manufacturer between July 1st and July 15th of 2008. Jane Doe was found with a dark hair tie on her right wrist. She was also wearing a bracelet that had pendants hanging from it. A penny size St. Benedict medal, or pendant, was found underwater but it is unclear as to if it belonged to the victim or her bracelet. Jane Doe was discovered without shoes or socks.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION / EXAMINATION:
Once authorities were able to retrieve Jane Doe, they were able to perform an autopsy. This gave law enforcement a peek into the life Jane Doe had been taken from. She was estimated to be between 15 to 21 years old. Jane Doe was said to have a petite to average frame. This was difficult to determine based on the advanced rate of decomposition and the fact that Jane Doe was found wearing different size clothing. She was an estimated 4’10 to 5’4 weighing 110 – 135 lbs. It is believed she had either light brown or dark blond hair with highlights. Her hair was 12-14 inches long. Jane Doe’s race and eye color are unknown. Her race is believed to be either white, or Hispanic although Asian and Native American cannot be ruled out. She was possibly multiracial.
Jane Doe was likely pigeon-toed or knock-kneed as her feet slanted inward slightly. This may or may not have been noticeable. She had a healed fracture on a left rib. Jane Doe was also suffering from Spina Bifida Occulta which was possibly asymptomatic. She also had an overbite which was not considered extreme but again, it may have been noticeable. Jane Doe had some fillings and dental sealants on her back molars. She did not have any cavities at the time of her death. Jane Doe’s DNA and dental records are on file and periodically checked against known missing persons.
A cause of death has not been determined although suicide was eliminated as an option. Toxicology testing was done on Jane Doe but authorities have yet to release the results. It was concluded Jane Doe had been deceased for 2-4 months prior to being discovered putting her time of death in the late summer or early fall of 2008.
After Jane Doe had been discovered, a CT scan of her skull and photos were submitted to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Center then created a computer-generated reconstruction to showcase to the public in hopes of someone recognizing her. This reconstruction brought in over 200 tips, as apparently the image resembled a lot of missing females. Many women were eliminated as possible matches based on Jane Doe’s DNA and dental records. One notable missing person that had been looked at and eliminated in this case was Amanda Berry. Amanda was later found being held captive along with two other women in a house in Cleveland Ohio. Another notable missing person who has been excluded is Maura Murray who disappeared from New Hampshire on February 9, 2004. Jane Doe was laid to rest in 2011 when her case became cold.
On April 21, 2018, the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s office announced plans to exhume Jane Doe’s body for further isotope testing. A new facial reconstruction was also released to the public. In August 2018, the results came back from the isotope testing. The test revealed, Jane Doe had spent much of her life in southwestern United States. Specifically, New Mexico or Arizona. The test also revealed that Jane Doe had been living in the Midwest for about a year prior to her death. She had most likely been in South-Western Wisconsin, Southern Minnesota, or Northern Illinois.
Some have noticed the incredibly odd coincidence that the Fond du Lac Jane Doe and the Vernon county Jane Doe have both been traced back to New Mexico or Arizona. A connection between the two cases seem unlikely as they were discovered 24 years apart and the victimology is strikingly different. (Vernon County Jane Doe was estimated to be 50-65 years of age.) The Vernon County Jane Doe was discovered in mostly home-sewn clothing. This suggests both Jane Does did not have financial means for fancy clothing.
WEST MESA MURDERS:
On February 2, 2009, a woman made a discovery while walking her dog that would eventually lead to the remains of 11 women and young girls who had been murdered and buried in the desert of New Mexico. The murders occurred between the years of 2001 and 2005. The victims ranged in age from 15 – 32, one being four months pregnant at the time of her death. All of the women were Hispanic, except for one who was African-American. Most of the women were involved in drug use and sex-work. Police have stated they believe this is the work of a serial killer who has become publicly dubbed ‘The West Mesa Bone Collector.’
At first glance, authorities believed the Jane Doe discovered in Fond du Lac County, could be connected to the West Mesa murders as she matches the age and possible race of the victims. The Fond du Lac Jane Doe also has ties to the southwest. The idea has been investigated and ruled out by authorities, although much debate continues amongst the online community. The West Mesa Murders remain unsolved.
To this day, very little is known about Jane Doe or how she came to be frozen in a shallow creek in Wisconsin. If Jane Doe had spent much of her life in the southwest, then she may have been unfamiliar with Fond du Lac County. Authorities believe she could’ve been with someone who was familiar with the area. The Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s office is working very closely with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in this case. They have also reached out to a number of media networks in hopes of broadcasting Jane Doe’s story. Authorities would like to reach a larger audience, specifically individuals in the southwest who may have known Jane Doe before she came to the Midwest.
If you have information regarding this case, please contact Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Office tip line at 920-906-4777
LINKS FOR ADDITIONAL READING:
The Doe Network:
Fond Du Lac County Sheriff: