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Body of scalped Jane Doe found in Barren County, Ky. still unidentified

Investigators retrieve the remains of scapled Jane Doe found in Barren County, Ky.
Investigators retrieve the remains of scapled Jane Doe found in Barren County, Ky.
KOMO News (Image labeled for reuse);

Students looking for a native tree for a school activity near Glasgow, Ky. made a gruesome discovery on Aug. 15, 2011. In a ditch, just off the Cumberland Parkway, the students uncovered a human skull. Local authorities were alerted and investigators subsequently found the rest of the victim’s skeleton scattered over a roughly 100-foot area near Interstate 65.

Upon further investigation, Ky. State Police determined the victim to be female, and most likely of Native American descent. Examination of her remains revealed the cause of death to be gunshot wounds, which, in and of itself, is not all that uncommon. What is so unique and disturbing about this murder is the fact that the victim, who remains unidentified to date, was also scalped. The majority of the body, with the exception of the skull, was found nearly 100 miles south of Louisville, Ky. in a heavily wooded area of Barren County.

Forensic anthropologists were called in to examine the remains in an attempt to gather additional information about the victim. They determined that the victim was a modern-era female, as, among other evidence, it was found that she had undergone modern dental work, including alloy fillings and root canals. Working together, forensic anthropologists and police were able to put together a tentative description of the Jane Doe.

According to police, the victim was quite tall for a woman, standing somewhere between 5-foot-9 and 6-foot-1. Her age was more difficult to pinpoint, and it could only be determined that she was between the ages of 20 and 50 years old. Forensic testing concluded that the body had probably been in the area where it was found since as early as 1999, as late as 2010, or anywhere in between.

Also, and of particular significance in this case, is the discovery that the victim was of Native American descent. However, because Ky. does not, in general, recognize any Native American tribes, the victim may never have identified, or been registered, with any particular tribe. Police acknowledge the fact that the victim may also have been from out of state. The only other physical evidence found were the remains of what may have been a floral print bikini bottom or underwear.

One detail that both police and the forensic anthropology team are both certain of is that the markings on the victim’s skull are unquestionable evidence of scalping. And, while the cause of death was gunshot wounds, police have been unable to determine the exact caliber of the weapon, although it is known that it was not a shotgun.

Police believe that the victim may have been dumped in the area where her remains were found, but it is unlikely that it was the scene of the actual murder. But what was the reason behind this bizarre scalping? Could it have been a hate crime based on her Native American descent? Or, worse yet, could she have run afoul of a Mexican drug cartel, who, according to Cora Van Olson of, are “known for beheading and scalping their enemies during turf wars”?

Both scenarios may be long-shot explanations, as neither drug violence nor hate crimes of this type have been reported in Ky. Unfortunately, at this point, investigators have hit a brick wall in both identifying the victim and in locating a suspect, or suspects, involved in her murder. The results of DNA testing and dental record comparisons have not been released to the public, but police have conceded that they have run out of leads. This Jane Doe deserves a name, a proper burial, and justice for her brutal slaying. Any person with information about this case should contact the Ky. State Police at 270-782-2010.

Follow the link below to see the missing persons listing for this case and to find out the identities of missing women who have been ruled out as this decedent:

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