CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) – For nearly 20 years she has been known as “Jane Doe;” a teenager found dead at a Douglas County campground. With no identification found at the scene, no certain cause of death and no leads, she was buried in Castle Rock with her identity unknown.
Now CBS4 has learned that the Douglas County Coroner’s Office plans to exhume the young woman’s body Friday hoping to solve the mystery by obtaining new DNA samples that could potentially link to a positive identification.
“Well it’s very important to try to identify her,” said Chuck Brining, Deputy Douglas County Coroner. “To provide her family — her mother, her father — information on perhaps what happened to their loved one; and reunite her with her family. That’s the most important thing.”
The woman, thought to be between 16 and 19 years old, was found dead on June 15, 1993 at the Rainbow Falls Campground in Douglas County. Her cause of death was never determined, but the Douglas County Coroner’s website reports “authorities believe she died after being struck on the head.”
But Brining says there is no definitive cause of death and authorities are uncertain if she was murdered, died in an accident, or passed away from natural causes.
She was found wearing a Harley Davidson short sleeve black t-shirt and some distinctive jewelry. Authorities theorized she may have been a runaway. No identification was found on the body.
Previous attempts to identify her through limited DNA samples have failed. On Friday a backhoe will be brought in to dig up her grave. Investigators will then extract a different type of DNA from the remains and enter that into a national database. Their hope is that the woman’s family reported her missing and provided a DNA sample to law enforcement in their area that would then yield a match.
“I hope the chances are very good,” said Brining. “I just feel it’s very important that families have answers, which is what we do, that’s our business.”
Brining said it will likely take four to five months to determine if the new DNA matches up with a sample already stored in a national database.
At her gravesite in Castle Rock’s Cedar Hill Cemetery, a small marker notes her name as Jane Doe and her date of death as 1993. Brining said authorities hope the exhumation and renewed DNA investigation shed much more light on who she was and where she was born.
“The deceased no longer have a voice and we are that voice. We speak for them,” said Brining.
– Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com