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Crime News Cold Cases

Florida Detectives Still Working To Identify Jane Doe In 30-Year-Old Homicide Cold Case

The unidentified woman had likely been dead for two or three years when her skeletal remains were uncovered on Jan. 10, 1993. 

By Christina Coulter
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Deputies in Florida have matched the skeletal remains of a dead woman believed to be a homicide victim found in 1993 to dozens of relatives via DNA testing — but her name still remains a mystery.

On Jan. 10 of that year, two young boys playing basketball discovered the unidentified woman in a palmetto shrub when their ball rolled into the woods at the end of their cul-de-sac on Sea Ship Place in Palm Coast, according to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.

Detectives found "other items of evidence," including remnants of clothing material "suggestive of a pocket lining and zipper and faded clothing tag" and the worn vestiges of a size 7 1/2 pair of tennis shoes, along with the woman's partial skeleton, according to the NamUS database.

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Forensic Anthropologists at the University of Florida determined that she had been dead for approximately two or three years before her corpse was found. 

They determined she was likely 25 to 35 years old when she was killed and stood at five-foot-three inches. Detectives also noted a right nasal fracture that appeared to have been sustained in an incident before the woman was killed.

A police rendering of the Flagler County Cold Case victim

Most of the woman's teeth had fallen out post-mortem, but those that remained showed evidence of periodontal disease.

Flagler County Sheriff's Department Public Affairs Officer Ava Hanner told Oxygen.com that the woman had no trauma to her bones and, because of her corpse's decayed state, there is no indication to how she died. 

Nearly 30 years later, in 2021, Othram Inc., a private lab specializing in forensic genealogy to get to the bottom of unsolved murders, managed to develop a DNA profile for the Jane Doe. Forensic anthropologists originally guessed that the woman was white, possibly Indian, but upon reevaluation with newer technology, the company determined she was African American, "possibly mixed with Caucasian."

Using genetic genealogy, investigators determined that she was descended from George Washington Coleman and Clarissa Minnick from the area of Edgefield and Aiken in South Carolina.

At least 30 of the woman's relatives have been contacted, the department wrote. But none had any knowledge of her identity, let alone the circumstances surrounding her death.

One of those relatives is Donya Williams, who works as a genealogist at the organization Genealogy Adventures.

"Ms. Williams has shared her knowledge of African American genealogy and specific expertise of the region of Edgefield, South Carolina with Detective [Sarah] Scalia in hopes of identifying the victim," deputies wrote in the press release.

Scalia and the department's Cold Case Unit have been working alongside the Aiken County Sheriff's Office in South Carolina and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to help identify the woman.

Scalia "hand-delivered" the woman's skull to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Forensic Imaging Unit on Jan. 10 of this year. 

Using the new ancestry data, forensic artists created a facial approximation of the woman, which has been distributed in both Florida and South Carolina. 

“I was murdered!” deputies wrote on the unidentified woman’s behalf. “Who am I and do you know who killed me?”

Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said he "know[s] someone out there knows something."

“We hope that someone may be able to identify this woman so we can bring closure to her family who has been waiting for over 30 years to know what happened to her,” Staly said in a statement.

Anyone who recognizes the woman or who has information pertaining to her death is asked to call the sheriff's non emergency number at 386-313-4911 or email tips@flaglersheriff.com. Detective Scalia can be reached directly at sscalia@flaglersheriff.com. Crime Stoppers of North Florida, which is offering a reward of $5,000 for information about the unidentified woman, can be reached at 1-888-277-TIPS.

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