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In most cases of unidentified children there is always the unspoken truth that somewhere out there is a parent desperately searching for their missing child. However, that truth changes when the person responsible for their death is their parent, as seems to be the case with “Opelika Jane Doe”.
On January 28, 2012, a young boy found a human skull in Lot 47 of the Brookhaven Trailer Park in Opelika, Alabama, while playing behind his mother's house. While searching the area investigators found a young girl's long-sleeved, pink shirt about 50 feet away, with 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 belonging to the skull’s owner. The exact location is disputed as some sources report they were found 40 to 50 yards away from the skull, while 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 with medium length, curly black hair that was worn in tight spirals. While her height, weight and eye color could not be established, testing showed that she had been extremely malnourished and 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), although the size of the skull indicates that she was either younger than that 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, and the Department of Child Services also came up empty. In 2016 investigators received what they thought would crack the case - photographs of a girl who fit 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
Those with additional public information or contacts related to this article please contact us. Persons with information regarding the death and/or identity of Opelika Jane Doe are are urged to contact the Opelika Police Department at (334) 705-5200 in reference to agency case number 12000847, or your local law enforcement agency.
NAMUS - UP #9834
The Missing & The Lost - Baby Jane Doe Of Opelika, Alabama
Crimewatchers.Net - OPELIKA JANE DOE: BF, 4-7, found in trailer park in Opelika, AL - Jan 2012
Find A Grave - Jane "Opelika Jane Doe" Doe
What Haunts Us - Opelika Jane Doe 2012
National Center For Missing & Exploited Children - Jane Doe 2012 - Case # 1197223
- 02 Feb 2017 - Test Result Reveals New Clue In Opelika Jane Doe Mystery