New Hope in a Decades Old Mystery
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New Hope in a Decades Old Mystery

09-12-2019

“Someone out there knows who she is,” says Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Brian Noll.  “And there is always hope that someone will come forward with information.”

And now, after years of investigating, dead ends, many unanswered questions and holding out hope, a recent tip into police could help them solve this 42-year-old mystery. A tipster believes she knows the identity of the unidentified female who was found deceased along the banks of the Lehigh River…could she be Maggie Cruz?

The body of an unidentified female, who is often referred to by state investigators as “Beth Doe,” was found just days before Christmas in 1976. Her body was dismembered, shoved into three suitcases and thrown from a westbound highway overpass off I-80 in Carbon County, Pennsylvania. 

suitcase and bed spread

“This would be an unusual case for any area based on the ghastly nature of the murder,” says Noll, who is with the criminal Investigation Assessment Unit. “The area where she was found is very rural and quiet and there have not been any cases that are believed to be related in the area.”

Authorities say she was violently raped, strangled and shot in the neck after she died. She was pregnant, full-term, with a little girl. The fetus was cut from her body and her nose, ears and breasts were removed. 

Investigators determined she had been deceased for only a day or two when her body was found by some children who were checking out animal traps near the Lehigh River, just under the overpass. She was between 15-25 years old with brown hair and brown eyes.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children created these reconstruction images in hopes that someone, someday would be able to identify Beth Doe and give her back her name.

Pa doe

Beth Doe

A recent tip called into police suggests that Beth Doe may be a female named Madelyn “Maggie” Cruz. The tipster provided law enforcement with some information about her past and law enforcement found some photos of her…but they still have one lingering question…Where is she now?

“This particular lead checks a lot of boxes for us as being a possible match for our victim,” says Noll. “We are hopeful to be able to identify her as our victim or rule her out with certainty.” 

three photos of Maggie Cruz

Maggie Cruz

She was known to go by her nickname, Maggie, but police say that her first name was Madelyn, although the correct spelling of her first name has not been determined. As a young teenager in the early 1970s, Maggie believed to be in the care of New Jersey social services. She was sent to attend Rockwood Academy in Lenox, MA for a short time. Afterward, she was taken in by a foster family in Framingham, MA and possibly attended Framingham North High School, although records of her attendance have not been found. 

Around 1974, at just 16-years old, Maggie ran away from Framingham, making that the last time anyone saw her. Authorities suggest that Maggie may have traveled to Tarrytown, NY after leaving Framingham. 

After two years of no contact, Maggie called a friend stating that she was pregnant and needed money. Unfortunately, Maggie would not say where she was. Police say this was the last time that anyone heard from Maggie.

Can you help law enforcement solve this mystery?

“We are asking the public if they have any knowledge of the possible identity of Beth Doe or any information that may help lead to her identification or a possible suspect to contact the Pennsylvania State Police,” says Noll. “Also, if anyone has any information regarding the lead on Madelyn “Maggie” Cruz in an effort to rule her out or confirm her as our victim please contact investigators.”  

Have a tip? Please call the Pennsylvania State Police at 1-570-459-3890 or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).

NCMEC poster: http://www.missingkids.org/poster/NCMU/1104191/1/screen