CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Investigators say they’ve only gotten one new tip since revealing an updated sketch Wednesday of what an unidentified woman, whom they refer to as Jane Doe, may have looked like before she died. But they say they are working from a list of 35 cases that are possible matches. They are checking on each one individually.
Jane Doe was found in a field northwest of Thomasboro in 1995. Police didn’t know who she was, but now they’re sharing what they’ve learned in hopes of tracking down her identity.
A lot of this new information came from DNA testing that wasn’t available before. Investigators say, despite the long wait, they have never stopped working this case.
The new details may seem vague, but compared to what investigators knew about Jane Doe a year ago, it’s progress.
“Our starting point is to figure out who she is so then we can then once we have a name, then we’ll be able to figure out what she was doing, find out a little more about who she was and those connections, and that’ll lead us to the next step,” said Champaign County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Dwayne Roelfs.
When Jane Doe was found, investigators only knew it was a woman in her late teens or late twenties. New tests results show that Doe could have been born in Urbana, Southeastern Illinois, Nashville Tennessee, Springfield Missouri, or a region north of Topeka Kansas.
It’s possible Jane Doe did not stay in the area where she was born. Investigators say she likely lived long-term in either northern Arkansas, Huntsville Alabama, Springfield Missouri, or Topeka Kansas. They say she may have been in those areas for around five years prior to her death. That information comes from isotopes.
“Isotopes are ingested by humans every day through the water they drink, the food they eat, the air they breathe from the areas they’re at,” said Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup.
“I think primarily the most important thing that we’ve got now is the isotope information, which really narrows down that area where we believe she was living during the last few years of her life, along with where she was likely born,” said Roelfs.
Jane Doe could have been someone’s classmate, coworker, or sister. Details taken from dental records and forensics place her between 16 and 29 years old. They believe she’s somewhere between 5’1″ and 5’9″. Investigators want people from anywhere near those areas to take a look at a facial reconstruction picture of what she may have looked like. Because without a name, they can’t take the next step.
“Until we know who she is, we have no idea who her acquaintances were, who her family members were, so we can’t really work on the homicide case until we can identify who she is,” said Northrup.