Today, I took a trip to the Chester County library. Research-wise, I have been relegated to generic Google and less-than-holy Tor browser searches for information on Suitcase Jane Doe (SJD). But, because of the lack of information available online, I decided to try it the old-fashioned way. A kindly librarian assisted me in scouring digital archives of the Philadelphia Inquirer and some microfilm of The Daily Local News (small circulation newspaper for Chester Co). It yielded little new information, but provided me names of individuals who were involved with the investigation, including Bucks Co. DA, forensic specialists, and the hospital in which the autopsy was conducted on the torso. These articles are available to view here.
Here are a few things of note:
On Tuesday, July 11, 1995, a fisherman casting into the Valley Creek, just outside of the Twin Tunnels in Downingtown (Chester County, PA) discovered a green trash bag on the banks of the creek. Inside the trash bag he found a maroon suitcase bound with wire and tape. Inside the suitcase were bed sheets, a quilt, some clothing and a quilt/garment bag. Enclosed in the bag were the head and torso of a woman.
Pennsylvania State Police found that while there was clothing inside of the suitcase, the woman was nude except for a blood-stained bra. There was nothing to help identify her, no purse, paperwork or license. She had no tattoos or distinctive scars. Her face had decomposed to the point where her features were unrecognizable.
Her legs were missing. Authorities searched the area but no other body parts were found.
The suitcase was leather-grained vinyl with wheels on the bottom. The quilt was a modern pattern of green, black and light blue. Both the quilt and suitcase were mass-produced and possibly sold by K-Mart.
An autopsy revealed that the woman had likely been killed 3 to 7 days prior to being found. Cause of death was inconclusive. There was no indication of strangulation or sexual assault. She had a bruised right eye and two small bruises on her back, possibly indicating her trying to flee her killer but no indication of a fierce struggle. She had no drugs in her system and her blood-alcohol level indicated a possible consumption of one, maybe two drinks prior to her death.
January 28, 1996 - just over six months later and roughly 50 miles away....
...leg bones and a foot were discovered in Core Creek Park in Bucks County. They were found in a wooded area near the Duchess Lane picnic area between Park Road and Bridgetown Pike. The bones appeared to be from either a child or a small adult. The Bucks Couny Coroner estimated that they belonged to someone who had been deceased for about six months.
DNA testing was conducted to determine if the legs were those belonging to the torso found in Valley Creek but the tests were inconclusive, however, three forensic pathologists, after extensive examination of the body parts, concluded that the body parts came from the same person. Their conclusions were based on similar cuts between the torso and the legs and that the right leg fit perfectly into the torso. The legs were later cremated, as was the normal routine at the time due to storage limitations.
Found nearby was a green trash bag filled with clothing that may have belonged to the victim. Among the clothes were:
a blue, black and pink sweater, size 10, Jet Set brand with Mickey & Minnie Mouse on it;
a denim jacket with a red border at the bottom, Bonjour brand;
a small black jumper.
Found away from the trash bag was a white blouse with black and gold buttons.
The sizes of the clothing were consistent with those found with the torso.
This unidentified woman was featured twice on America's Most Wanted, who dubbed her "Suitcase Jane Doe" - not to be confused with "Beth Doe" found in Carbon County in 1976. At this time, there is nothing to indicate that the two cases are related.
In at least one publication, one of the legs was described as being "skinned". This site's owner was told by an investigator that the absence of skin/soft tissue was due to decomposition and/or animal activity, not from being skinned.
The location of the torso has been publicized in various publications over the years as being found in the Brandywine River. She was actually found in Valley Creek, just outside the tunnel.