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Man Visits Grave Of Missing Mom Who Was Discovered To Be Serial Killer's Victim

Jason Di Tripani wants to get a headstone for his mom Meresa Hammonds, who has been known only as a Jane Doe victim of a serial killer for decades.

By Gina Tron
Yonkers Jane Doe

A man who has spent nearly three decades not knowing what happened to his biological mother recently discovered that she was murdered by a serial killer.

Jason Di Tripani was adopted by his mother Meresa Hammonds’ friend after Hammonds . He spent most of his life not knowing what happened to his biological mom. 

He now knows that Hammonds’ body was discovered in a dumpster in 1992 in Yonkers after being killed and brutally mutilated.

In 1992, the body parts of an unknown woman were found in black trash bags; one of the woman's legs and both arms had been removed. Known as a “Jane Doe” until last year, police said the woman had worked as a sex worker. Her profession and the manner in which she died fit the pattern of serial killer Robert Shulman, who confessed to killing five women in the sex industry, including the person known as Jane Doe, and scattering their dismembered remains around Long Island and Manhattan.

Detective John Geiss of the Yonkers Cold Case Squad started looking at Jane Doe's file in the year 2000 and last year seriously renewed efforts to give her back her name.

The Cold Case Unit used genetic genealogy to try and find her identity — and, in the process, matched the Jane Doe’s DNA to a cousin of Hammonds' who had submitted a sample to a genealogy website. They then reached out to Di Tripani, and were able to confirm Hammonds’ identity when they compared her DNA to his and three of her siblings.

The true identity of the Jane Doe was made public in December.

Now, Di Tripani knows where his mother is buried and recently visited her, which was both comforting and difficult for him.

Hammonds is currently buried at Frederick Douglass Memorial Park in Staten Island, a non-profit historically Black cemetery established in the 1930s in response to ongoing segregation in New York City's other cemeteries. There is currently just a small, flagpole stick to mark her grave.

“When I first arrived to the gravesite, it was hard,”  Di Trapani told local outlet WPIX, “because all I saw was the stick coming out of the ground.”

He said when he first visited his mom’s grave, he prayed before kissing his hand and putting it over the marker stick. He has hopes to replace it with a more legitimate headstone.

“I want it to be a beautiful headstone, with her name on it, when she was born, when she passed away,” Di Trapani told WPIX.

Shulman was sentenced to death in 1999 for targeting and killing sex workers in the 1990s; he was later re-sentenced to life in prison. He admitted to killing Lori Vasquez in 1991, Lisa Ann Warner in 1995 and Kelli Sue Bunting in 1995. He also confessed to killing the Jane Doe who was recently determined to be Hammonds, and another as-yet unknown woman whose body was found in Medford, New York.

His brother, Barry Shulman, was sentenced to two years in prison for helping dispose of the bodies. Robert Shulman died of undisclosed causes in 2006 at the age of 52.

“I was in shock,” Di Trapani told WPIX upon learning that his mom was the victim of a serial killer. “It was a relief, in a weird way.  At least I knew she was just not looking for me.”