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Greek “Jane Doe” Victim in Mississippi Cold Case

Greek "Jane Doe"
The Greek “Jane Doe,” whose remains were found in 1980, is thought to have been the victim of a homicide. A forensic genealogist and her team are asking for the public’s help in finding out her true identity. Credit: Harrison Country Sheriff’s Office.

A Greek “Jane Doe” was most likely killed in a murder that occurred in Biloxi, Mississippi in 1980. Fully ethnically Greek, she must have relatives in North America and Greece; discovering the victim’s true identity is the quest of American forensic pathologist Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick.

A physicist who once worked for NASA, Fitzpatrick has for years now devoted herself to genealogical and DNA research in identifying “Jane Does” and “John Does,” people whose remains have been found but whose identities remain unknown.

Despite the passage of time — it has been almost 42 years since the skeletal remains of the 20-something woman were found — Fitzpatrick tells Greek Reporter in an exclusive interview she is “almost 100% sure” that she can solve the mystery of the woman’s identity through a combination of genealogical and DNA research.

Jane Doe
The recreated face of the Greek “Jane Doe” whose skeleton was found in 1980. She is thought to have been a murder victim. Credit: Identifinders/Harrison County, Mississippi Sheriffs Department

But the forensic genealogist is reaching out now to as many Greeks as she can, all around the globe, to help her in her attempt to piece together Jane’s true identity.

Using tools she has honed through years of practice, Fitzpatrick, a former NASA physicist who is the founder of Identifinders, a firm that specializes in finding missing people, is confident that at some point the name of the female victim in this disturbing case may become known.

However, she and her team at Identifinders, who have earned worldwide renown for the many cold cases they have solved, could use some help from the Greek and Greek-American public on this cold case, which has bedeviled them for approximately two years.

This Greek “Jane Doe” — who remains unknown since she was never reported missing by her family or friends — may have been trafficked into the US; she may even have originally been one of the many Greek children who were adopted out of Greek hospitals and orphanages under very suspicious circumstances in the mid 1950’s through the 1960’s.

Or her reality may have been quite different. She could even have been a tourist, the forensic genealogist says.

Fitzpatrick, who is known worldwide as the founder of modern forensic genealogy, has been successful in solving a string of cold cases, and may very well find the Greek woman’s real identity; already she has identified Jane’s third cousin in Canada.

Jane’s skeletal remains were discovered near Biloxi, Mississippi in 1980. She was estimated to be approximately 20 years old at the time of her death, so she was most likely born in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

Fitpatrick tells Greek Reporter “We are using forensic genetic genealogy techniques which have been useful in finding distant cousins, but there are many challenges applying the technique to recent immigrants such as ‘Ms. Harrison’ (the familiar name by which Jane is known by the investigators on her case).

“We have contacted the local Greek churches and other organizations along the Gulf Coast, but no one has been able to provide any information about her.

“In the meantime, we are working with the Harrison County Sheriffs Office in trying to get her DNA profile into Interpol,” Fitzpatrick adds.

Fitzpatrick is the co-author of one of the basic texts in all of her field. Titled “Forensic Genealogy, it was published in 2005.  

In this work, she shows just how one goes about using simple scientific techniques to solve genealogical mysteries. This involves photographic identification, database mining, and DNA testing for genetic genealogy, including information on autosomal DNA testing, among other aspects of research.

They specialize in forensic genetic genealogy, where they use both genealogy and DNA to not only identify unidentified human remains but also violent offenders on cold cases.

“At first it was a hobby, but then a few months later I got hired by a company looking for people who owned property,” she explains to Greek Reporter. Once she was successful finding these people, Fitzpatrick was hooked, knowing she could find almost anyone, anywhere, if she had been able to accomplish that.

Over the years, she has researched in 50 countries “for a variety of reasons, including Holocaust research, unclaimed property, and forensic genealogy,” she recalls.

“In 2011 I had the idea of using genealogy to solve cold cases,” Fitzpatrick states, adding that she ended up approaching the Seattle Police Department with that concept.

The first cold case she solved by this means was in 2015.

Once charged with finding the identity of a man whose hand had fallen onto a glacier after an airplane accident in Alaska, she somehow did just that, through locating a person in a village in Ireland who had been related to the victim back in the 1800s, she explains to Greek Reporter.

Incredibly, she was somehow able to identify the veteran “going through mitochondrial DNA from his female side,” she explains. She also does a great deal of very difficult, emotionally-charged work in identifying Holocaust victims.

Detectives probed Greek-Americans in Gulf coast states for clues to Jane Doe’s identity

Detective Coley Judy worked the Greek Jane Doe case when her skeleton was first found. He recalls that all possible avenues were explored in his investigation into the case, including inquiries made into Greek Orthodox churches and communities in the Gulf states.

He told Fitzpatrick that he had spoken to a great many Greek-American people in this region of the south, admitting that they have had no luck so far “Nobody recognizes her, nobody,” Fitzpatrick laments, adding that although one of her staff genealogists “did find an adoptee that lived in Louisiana,” that was a “long shot” since the woman’s hair color was wrong.

She and her team are still looking for the birth certificate of that individual, whose adopted parents are now deceased. “We have learned almost nothing about her,” other than her ethnic identity, the forensic genealogist acknowledges.

But that may very well change. When Greek Reporter asked Fitzpatrick what the likelihood was that she would solve the case, she stated confidently “My track record says 100%. But I can’t tell you when,” she admits.” I’m pretty good at the international stuff. If we could solve it, this would be the first case solved for Greece using this (DNA) method.”

Anyone with any pertinent information whatsoever about this Greek Jane Doe who died so long ago in Mississippi is encouraged to contact Dr. Fitzpatrick at:

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