In most cases of unidentified children's remains there is an unspoken truth. That somewhere out there a parent is desperately searching for their missing child. However, as it seems to be with “Opelika Jane Doe”, that truth changes when the person responsible for their death is their parent.
On January 28, 2012, a young boy playing behind his mother's house found a human skull in Lot 47 of the Brookhaven Trailer Park in Opelika, Alabama. While searching the area investigators found a young girl's long-sleeved, pink shirt about 50 feet away. The shirt had heart buttons and a ruffled neckline. Directly across the road from 1755 Hurst Street is a heavily wooded area, possibly an old creek bed. It was here that they found the lower jaw bone, a small amount of hair and multiple other bones. The exact location is disputed as some sources report they were found 40 to 50 yards away from the skull. However the NAMUS file states that they were located 50 to 75 feet from it.
"Very Debilitating Injuries"
Forensic testing determined that the remains belonged to a female, African American child. Her hair was of medium length and was worn in tight spirals. While her height, weight and eye color could not be established, testing showed that she had been extremely malnourished. She was also most likely abused during her short life. Investigators described the extensive bone injuries and damage to one of her eyes as “very debilitating injuries”.
She is estimated to have been between 4 and 7 years old at the time of her death (born 2004 to 2008). However the size of the skull indicates that she was younger or very small due to malnourishment or a disability. Malnutrition had also caused her teeth to be underdeveloped, possibly making them look small and out of place with her face, and she may have had a sickly appearance and poor hygiene. Dubbed “Opelika Jane Doe”, the girl is believed to have died approximately 8 months to two years before she was found, however some residents recall a strong decaying odor during the Fall of 2011.
Greater Peace Church
No records of the young girl’s identity were found within the Alabama school system or the Department of Child Services. In 2016 investigators received what they thought would crack the case. Photographs of a girl fitting Opelika Jane Does’ description that were taken at Greater Peace Church in the Summer of 2011. The small, curly haired child had a visible deformity in her left eye and was quiet and unable to communicate with the other children on their level, matching investigators’ beliefs that she had been unsocialized with the outside world. Sadly no clues to her identity were ever found in the church’s records and the trail once again turned cold. A 2017 isotope test confirmed that she had spent her life in the southeastern US, most likely in Alabama or one of the surrounding states.
Somewhere, someone knows something about Opelika Jane Doe. Whether it's a teenager who remembers a quiet girl from his bible school or a medical provider who remembers a little girl with an eye problem, someone out there can give her a name and send her home.
Unidentified Remains Agency Contacts
If you believe you have information on this case please contact us. Anyone with information on the identity of Opelika Jane Doe is urged to contact the Opelika Police Department’s Investigative Services Division at (334) 705-5220, the Opelika Police Secret Witness Hotline at (334) 745-8665., the Lee County Coroner or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 800-THE-LOST.
Reminder: Please DO NOT contact anyone except the police or your local law enforcement agency with tips regarding missing/unidentified persons and unsolved cases to prevent breakdowns of communication that could potentially make the case/investigating the information harder. ONLY contact a law enforcement agency with important information.
- 23 Feb 2017 - Who Is Jane Doe?
- 02 Feb 2017 - Test Result Reveals New Clue In Opelika Jane Doe Mystery
Reddit - Unresolved Mysteries - Opelika Jane Doe: Remains Of A Young Black Female Found In Opelika, Alabama CrimeWatchers - Opelika Jane Doe: BF, 4-7, Found In Trailer Park In Opelika, AL WebSleuths MysteryMachine.us NamUs - Case# UP9834
National Center For Missing & Exploited Children - Jane Doe2012 (photo credit)