This month’s Doe case is an extremely frustrating one, so buckle up. There isn’t a whole lot of information publicly available for the investigation into this Doe’s death, and the timeline of events is fairly murky. But we’ll do our best. So what led this Jane Doe into the situation that would eventually kill them? Where did they come from? And, most importantly, why do they still not have their name back? Let’s explore.
On November 13, 2000 police were called to a home for disabled veterans in Chelsea, Massachusetts known as the Soldiers’ home. A body, missing its hands and head, was found wrapped in a piece of carpet behind the building. In 2004, the man who was found to have murdered Lisa Doe led investigators to where he buried the hands and head. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
Lisa Doe was estimated to be between 17 and 25 years old at the time of their death. They were Black, but possibly had some Indian or Asian heritage. They stood between 5’0” and 5’5” tall at the time of their death. They weighed between 100 and 130 lbs. Their hair was brown with a red tint to it, though it was unable to be determined whether that tint was natural or added via dye. Lisa’s eye color is unknown due to decomposition, though reconstructions depict them as being dark brown or black. Keep in mind that these estimates were given a wide range due to the fact that the remains were originally found without the head, making some attributes difficult to pin down.
Some of you long-time readers may be a little surprised to see a section relating to the investigation in a Doe case, but Lisa is a bit different from most of the other unidentified decedents I’ve covered. Lisa’s murderer has been identified and convicted. The circumstances of his identification and capture are only vaguely reported, so I will do my best to piece together the story from the few reports we have. If you have further information or can correct any part of this aspect of the case, please feel free to contact me.
It would seem that detective work led the investigators back to Eugene McCollum – some accounts state that he was seen on CCTV disposing of Lisa’s headless remains. When confronted by investigators, he confessed to murdering Lisa, but claimed that he did so in self-defence. He told investigators that the Doe had told him that their name was Lisa, and that they were a sex worker from Philadelphia.
McCollum propositioned Lisa and brought them back to his room at the YMCA. He claimed they disagreed about money owed, and Lisa grabbed a knife. He then strangled Lisa to death. Of course, this does not explain the removal of Lisa’s hands and head. If it was truly a case of self-defence, surely he would not take so many steps to remove Lisa’s identity? He led investigators to Lisa’s head and hands, which he had buried in “plastic containers” on Nahant beach. Needless to say, no one bought the self-defence explanation, and McCollum was convicted of Lisa’s murder in 2005. He was already in prison at the time, serving a sentence for manslaughter after he murdered and beheaded a man. Come on.
Typically, NamUs has a list of individuals ruled out as being an unidentified decedent. However, no missing persons have been ruled out as being Lisa. This is likely due to the fact that the only identifier available for Lisa are their dental impressions. Fingerprints and DNA are both listed as unavailable for this Doe, according to the Doe Network. That means that in order to rule a missing person out, they would either need to have that MP’s dentals on file for comparisons, or the process of exhumation would have to be started in order to get a DNA sample to create a profile for Lisa.
The first missing person I think could be a possible match for Lisa Doe is Genelle Bradford. Genelle went missing from Pittsburgh, PA on April 27, 1999. She was 17 at the time, which puts her age in the estimate for Lisa. Her height also matches, but her weight at the time of her disappearance was lower than Lisa’s estimates. Investigators on Genelle’s case believed she had left of her own accord, and I can believe she lied about her point of origin (Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia) as a safety measure.
The second possibility is Daphne Philisia Jones, who went missing from New Orleans, LA on January 3, 1999. I know that Louisiana is halfway across the country from Pennsylvania, but a few things really caught my eye when considering Daphne as a possibility. First, there’s the fact that “Lisa” could easily be a nickname derived from Philisia. Second, her features remarkably resemble the most recent reconstruction for Lisa. However, Lisa did have a tattoo on her shoulder, which is not noted in Lisa’s description. The rest of her vital statistics fall within the estimated ranges for Lisa.
The third possibility I’ve found is Kimberly Nicole Arrington. Kimberly disappeared from Montgomery, AL on October 30, 1998. Her age, height, weight, and complexion all line up with Lisa. Her photos also have some resemblance to the reconstruction of Lisa created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Investigators in her case believe that she was abducted, which could explain how she ended up all the way in Pennsylvania. I don’t see a strong possibility here, but anything is possible.
Lisa Doe has been unidentified for over twenty years. Twenty years without a name. Twenty years with family and friends not knowing what happened to their loved one. In death, even one day without a name is far too long. If you or anyone you know recognize the reconstructions of Lisa Doe, or have any information that may help identify them, please come forward. You can contact Joseph Cahill at the Office of the Medical Examiner. The contact number is 617-267-6767 ext. 2232 in reference to agency case number 2000-3244 (2004-188). The NCIC case number is U400005260, NamUs case number is 14135; NCMEC case number is 1184605.