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.
Her body was dismembered, shoved into three suitcases and thrown from a westbound highway overpass off I-80, which runs east-west through Pennsylvania.
Kids checking small animal traps near the river below the overpass found the girl’s remains. Investigators say she had been deceased for only a day or two when she was found. She was somewhere between 15-25 years old and called “Beth Doe,” and while we don’t know for sure the origins of the name, investigators say it was likely to differentiate her from other “Jane Does” at the time.
“This was a bizarre case for Carbon County,” said McAndrew.
Early on investigators tried everything they could to find answers. Several sketches of her face were created by different artists and publicized with the local news media. But no one came forward with answers.
This was 1976. There was no internet or 24-hour news networks.
“I think if we had all the major news outlets we have today, this case would have been on every TV show, every newspaper,” said McAndrew. “A nine-month pregnant female, murdered within four days of Christmas? Can you imagine?”
But after an exhaustive investigation, leads dried up.
NCMEC’s forensic imaging team created a facial reconstruction for the girl in 2002, after receiving a call from McAndrew. And with advancements in forensic science, McAndrew had the girl’s remains exhumed for testing.
An exam of her teeth revealed she had dental work done as a child, but her oral health declined significantly in the years before her death. She was likely in pain which may have been noticeable to the people around her.
It's important to note that while she was found in Pennsylvania, law enforcement says it's unlikely she was from that region. Chemical Isotope testing revealed even more clues. She may have spent her early childhood in southeastern parts of the U.S. that span from regions in Texas to regions in Virginia. Although the possibility also exists that she originally migrated from Eastern-Central Europe before coming to the U.S.
NCMEC created a new facial reconstruction of her in 2015 to give the public an image that might spark someone’s memory.
The forensic imaging team at the center then went to work enhancing other images that could be crucial to cracking the case - the suitcases she was found in and a bedspread found inside the suitcases. Now, it’s a matter of the right person seeing the images and coming forward with information.
“You know how everyone says there is always one case they want to solve in their career?” said McAndrew. “For me, this is the one.”
Beth Doe is just one of the more than a dozen unidentified child victim cases with which NCMEC is assisting the Pennsylvania State Police. It’s a partnership centered on the idea that no child is ever forgotten. No matter how many years pass, every child deserves the same chance at justice.
“Every child deserves their name,” said Schweitzer. “They deserve justice, and justice waits.”
If you have any information about Beth Doe, please call the Pennsylvania State Police at 570-459-3890 or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
View Beth Doe (Jane Doe 1976)’s NCMEC poster here.
For a list of missing and unidentified cases in Pennsylvania, visit www.missingkids.org and search by “state.”