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New Jersey’s ‘Princess Doe’ Identified After 40 Years, Convicted Murderer Charged
Officials say Long Island teen runaway Dawn Olanick was beaten to death when she refused to get into sex work. Arthur Kinlaw, the man accused of killing her, also allegedly killed others for the same reason.
Exactly 40 years after the remains of a woman were found in a New Jersey cemetery, officials say they have finally identified the murder victim and her killer.
The body of a female known only as “Princess Doe” was discovered on July 15, 1982, the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office announced Friday. Investigators from multiple agencies called it a “horrific murder” in which someone beat the victim to death and left her in a heavily wooded area of a graveyard near a steep embankment leading to a river.
Despite numerous attempts to identify “Princess Doe” over the years, investigators came up empty-handed until her alleged killed wrote a confession in 2005. Still, the murder would remain unsolved without knowing who “Princess Doe” really was.
Thanks to the use of genetic genealogy, police finally identified the victim as Dawn Olanick, a 16- or 17-year-old runaway from Long Island, New York.
And on Wednesday, authorities charged Arthur Kinlaw, 68, with her murder.
“Witness accounts indicate that Arthur Kinlaw had met the previously unknown female and attempted to lure her into prostitution,” the county prosecutor's office stated. “When she refused, he drove her to New Jersey where he ultimately killed her.”
A worker came upon Olanick’s body on the north end of Cedar Ridge Cemetery in Blairstown Township, just east of the Pennsylvania border and about 65 miles from New York City. Multiple agencies responded, including local police, state police, and the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office, but had only so much to work with.
The victim was determined to be a white female in a red and white print skirt and a red shirt, but her underwear was nowhere to be found. A postmortem examination revealed the then-unidentified victim sustained “blunt force trauma to the face and head with multiple fractures.”
Investigators exhausted many routes in trying to learn who the murder victim was, including submitting her fingerprints to state and federal law enforcement databases, but to no avail. Dental records, composite sketches, and widespread media coverage were also met “with negative results.”
Six months after the murder, “Princess Doe” was finally laid to rest, mere yards from where her body was discovered.
“The citizens of Blairstown paid for her burial and headstone,” the prosecutor’s office said. “The community has never forgotten the terrible crime that occurred, and there have been numerous memorials throughout the years since her death.”
Eric Kranz, a now-retired police lieutenant who was one of the initial investigators on the scene, spoke with the New York Times about how “Princess Doe’s” murder affected many.
“You would have people coming from other states just to visit the grave,” said Kranz. “People from Ohio, Nebraska, Texas. It was quite an amazing thing to witness.”
“Princess Doe” was also the first person ever to be entered into the NCIC, the now widely-used computerized database by the FBI to share information with law enforcement agencies around the country.
“Princess Doe’s” case went unresolved for decades but emerged years later when in 2005, convicted murderer Arthur Kinlaw penned a letter to authorities. According to Warren County officials, Kinlaw - an inmate at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York - stated “he wished to be interviewed” about the case.
“Since that time, Kinlaw has made various admissions indicating that he was responsible for the murder,” officials stated. “However, because the victim remained unidentified, Kinlaw’s confession could not be sufficiently corroborated.”
Though it would take years for Kinlaw to be charged with the murder, his confessions led to many true-crime outlets casting their suspicions onto Kinlaw, who is currently serving time following two 2000 first-degree murder convictions, though the county prosecutor’s office did not go into detail about the previous murders.
According to an archived Long Island Press article from 2012, Kinlaw and his wife, Donna Kinlaw, ran a prostitution ring in Suffolk County, New York, throughout the 1980s. Both were accused of drugging, strangling, and beating a Bay Shore teenager known only as “Linda” to death in 1984 when she refused to take part in their sex trafficking operation. The victim’s body - which remains unidentified - was found in the East River in New York City weeks later.
The Kinlaws, who shared nine children and more than 20 years of marriage, were charged with that murder in 1998, according to the New York Times.
In 1983, Kinlaw also allegedly dragged a disabled roommate into the backyard of his Bellport, Long Island, home and buried her underneath his patio, according to the New York Times. The woman - known as “Suffolk County Jane Doe” - was found in 1999.
Donna Kinlaw eventually turned state’s witness and told authorities about her husband’s murders, according to the Long Island Press.
Arthur Kinlaw was eventually convicted for two counts of murder and sentenced to 20 years to life behind bars, according to Warren County officials. Per the Long Island outlet, Donna Kinlaw was sentenced to three to 11 years before being released from prison in 2003, just two years before Arthur Kinlaw penned his confession letter about “Princess Doe,” which Donna also claimed was the work of her husband.
Multiple agencies had participated in DNA testing since 2007 in hopes of learning the identity of “Princess Doe,” and in April, genetic genealogy finally led to the brother of Dawn Olanick.
Prosecutors say Olanick was raised in West Babylon, NY, not far from where the Kinlaws allegedly ran their prostitution ring throughout central Long Island. She attended the Connetquot Central School District before running away from home when still a high school junior.
Kinlaw was officially charged with Olanick’s death on Wednesday. According to prosecutors, he has an “extensive criminal record” dating back to 1971, including convictions of robbery, assault, weapons, fraud, forgery, conspiracy, and criminal mischief.
Arthur Kinlaw faces the rest of his life behind bars if convicted of Olanick’s murder.