Forty-one years ago, a young woman’s body was pulled from the Milwaukee River in Wisconsin.
She was discovered by an off-duty firefighter who had been docking his boat in March 1982, according to newspaper reports from the time and a case summary by Othram, a private laboratory specializing in forensic DNA sequencing. Her body had been floating between two metal barrels tied to a nearby pier.
There was no evidence of foul play, and her death was ruled an accidental drowning. But her identity has remained a mystery.
Now, after initial forensic genetic genealogy analysis, investigators believe she may have had family in Atlanta.
Named “Milwaukee Jane Doe,” she was described as African American with brown eyes and brown hair that had a reddish tint, the summary states. She was estimated to have been between the ages of 15 and 25 and was about 5-foot-3 and 137 pounds.
Authorities think she might have been in the river for as long as three months.
The woman had pierced ears, a scar on her right ankle that was likely from an old burn and a small scar on her right forearm just below her elbow, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. She also appeared to have had extensive dental work, including two extractions, a number of fillings and a partial bridge that made it look like she had a full set of upper teeth.
She also had a vertical surgical scar that stretched down her lower abdomen and several internal adhesions on her abdomen and reproductive organs, and possibly had her appendix removed at one point, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
The clothes she wore included a tan hip-length wool jacket, blue pants from K-Mart, a brown striped long-sleeved shirt labeled Jeri-Jo, INC 1978, New York, and black calf-length vinyl boots. She also had a knit cap with an attached scarf.
With all leads exhausted, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office reached out to Othram in 2022 with the hope of identifying the woman or a relative who could identify her. That is what led them to Atlanta.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Milwaukee County ME’s Office at 414-223-1200. Callers should reference medical exam case number 1982-0533 or NamUs #UP7640.
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