Both reconstructions were created based on the description of the unidentified woman. The photos should not be the sole identifying factor.
- The victim was discovered on October 14, 2005 in Dorchester, Suffolk County, Massachusetts located in New England, USA
- Estimated Date of Death: She could have been deceased anywhere from 3 months to five years before discovery
- Victim is believed to be a woman in her twenties or thirties with a small/medium build
- She had long, dark brown hair, possibly even black, that went past her shoulders
- She had plastic nails painted red. It’s unclear if they were drugstore nails or if she went to a nail salon
- Medical examiners believe she bore at least one child prior to her death
- An Anthropologist conducted an extensive examination and population profile of the deceased and the results denote strong Caucasian genetics. However there were several other genetic identifiers/traits pointing to population mixture, such as her mouth, and jawline. She may or may not have appeared to be Caucasian by her skin color, or other visual ethnic features. She may also have appeared to be Caucasian, and claimed or been of another ethnic background independently. Therefore, these facts should not eliminate the possibility of her being from either the Caucasian/Hispanic, Black or Asian population.
At first, chimney sweep Mike Scanlan thought the long spindly thing was a tree branch as he pulled it free of the debris behind a piece of particle board at the bottom of a disused Dorchester apartment complex incinerator.
His flashlight showed the object in its beam. Red plastic fingernails glinted.
Scanlan found a body buried in the incinerator cavity. There was not a single broken bone. There were no signs of injury.
Boston Police Sgt. Paul Donovan assumed control of the investigation at 17-19 Winter St., searching for the path by which the woman’s skeleton ended up at the complex.
Without available witnesses, and with only what the bones could tell his team – Donovan faced a difficult prospect.
“Usually the evidence will take you where it takes you,” Donovan said. “In this case, we’re lacking evidence.”
The dead woman was between 25 and 35 years old. She probably stood 5-foot-2-inches. She was deemed of white heritage, but also possessed Hispanic, Asian or black features.
One outstanding identifier: her partial dental plate, either made in the Caribbean, or elsewhere by a Haitian or Jamaican dentist.
A dental expert told Donovan the plate was probably black market or underground. Find the dentist, and Donovan could find her name, her family, where she lived. Unlicensed plate-makers, however, mean unlisted dentists.
Donovan looked for witnesses.
“I think she was there since 2002,” Donovan said. “Somebody who had some association with the building — a resident, an employee or someone familiar with a resident or employee — has some knowledge about whatever happened.”
Between January 2002 and January 2005, Donovan said, an access door to the building basement was typically left unlocked. Whoever buried the woman knew that, he said, and knew of the chimney as a hiding place.
Another way to break the case, Donovan surmised, was to find anyone who knew the woman before she disappeared. He needed a picture of her in life. He turned to Boston Police forensic artist Gregory Mahoney.
Mahoney was able to produce a computer reconstruction of the woman’s features.
Until someone recognizes her picture, Donovan is in charge of a file full of questions.
“In all my other cases, you try not to let your gut influence you too much,” he said. Now, for Donovan, gut feeling is critical to the completion of his investigation.
He’s watching Winter Street, waiting, and reaching out to Boston once again for anyone who saw anything around that basement.
If you have any information regarding this case you’re urged to please contact:
Boston Police Department Homicide Unit
Sergeant Paul Donovan
Massachusetts State Medical Examiner’s Office
Official Cold Case Investigations
The Boston Channel
The Doe Network