LA times article on Dana Point Jane Doe

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LA times article on Dana Point Jane Doe

Post by redpill on Sat Jun 06, 2015 11:07 pm

this is from the original LA times article. No copyright infringement intended.

A hotel desk clerk told sheriff's investigators the woman had come in and asked if any tall buildings were in the area. She telephoned for a taxi and asked to be taken to the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Dana Point, even though it isn't a high-rise. Part way there, she realized that she didn't have enough money to pay for the ride and got out, apparently south of the hotel.

No one saw the woman climb the fence near the edge of the cliff and no one saw her jump, but investigators found marks on the side of the cliff where her body hit on the way down to the beach. It was "very much a suicide," Ellingburgh says.

Near the fence, sheriff's deputies found a purse with a name embossed in gold. What looked like an easy case turned to mystery, however, when a trace of the name turned up the owner of the purse, very much alive in San Diego County. The woman "was surprised she was contacted," Ellingburgh says, and reported that the purse had been stolen about 10 years earlier by a person unknown.

Near the purse was a California road map, with a marker detailing freeways through San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles counties, down into Orange County. Officials were unsure but thought the woman had been hitchhiking into the county.

The woman remains unidentified, another puzzle in the land of the dead.

COLUMN ONE : The Search for Names of the Dead : Orange County has a striking number of John and Jane Does who were neither poor nor loners. Many left clues--a room key, a bus ticket--that torment investigators trying to find out who they were.

SANTA ANA — She hails a cab, asks to be driven to the nearest cliff and decides it is time to die.

At the coroner's office, they lay her young, slender body on a slab in a metal chamber. The place smells. It's cold.

A week goes by and nobody comes to claim her. A month. Two. A year.

Although they are sympathetic enough at the coroner's office, they decide one day that they need her space. A crematory is called. For $425, which is paid by the county on her behalf, her ashes are placed in a cardboard box. The box is deposited on a rent-a-boat, motored out to sea off Dana Point, and in a ceremony that is as lonely as was her death, a man casts her remains overboard and tells her to rest in peace.

Whoever she is.

In the last decade, at least 33 people have died in Orange County who have met, or will meet, similar fates. Other counties have more unclaimed bodies. But many of Orange County's Jane and John Does are striking because they do not appear to be transients who lived solitary, anonymous lives.

Since 1992, the county coroner has investigated seven Does, the victims of car accidents, violent crimes, suicides or causes unknown. Several were too young to have died at all, Ellingburgh said, let alone to have died abandoned. In their quest to learn the Does' identities, investigators employ every means known to forensic science. Sometimes, they resort to such not-so-scientific means as consulting psychics. They have been known to chase long-shot leads on decade-old cases, in part, because, though the faces of death are all too familiar to them, it bothers them to bury someone without a name.

Ellingburgh, who can recite intimate details from years-old cases, still refers to one Jane Doe, a freckle-faced teen-ager who killed herself in 1987, as "my girl."

Luckey affixed a sketch of one of his Does to his tape dispenser. He still wonders: Was there something he missed? Another phone call he should have made?

It's strange, but in many of these cases you do wonder why somebody doesn't come forward," said Ellingburgh.

Sometimes Ellingburgh wonders if maybe the Does' spirits won't be able to rest until their relatives are told of their fate. He believes in God, he said, and would like to think the Does are destined for a better place. But any place is better than where they've been.

If Jane Doe 87-4457EL and John Doe 92-6012LY had known what was to become of them after their deaths, maybe things would have been different.

On Sept. 20, 1987, a strawberry-blond teen-ager stacked her belongings neatly at the top of a 150-foot cliff near Dana Point Harbor, pointed her size-6 shoes west and stepped off.

You'd think the same about the young woman who took her life near Dana Point Harbor.

At 4 in the morning on Sept. 20, 1987, she called a cab from the Hampton Inn in Mission Viejo.

She asked the cabby to drive her as far as $18 would take her. He let her out at the intersection of Cove Road and Scenic Drive, where she handed him a $10 bill and eight ones, and walked to the nearest cliff. Standing at the ledge, she would have seen nothing--there was no moon that night--and heard only the wet smack of the Pacific against the rocks below.

Said Ellingburgh, who handled the case, "She was still alive for some time at the bottom of the cliff, because she had made angel wings with her arms in the sand, you know, like children do in the snow."

But there were no angels at the base of the Dana Point Harbor cliff that morning, and none would appear later.

Not a single lead would ever come in.

Unlike other metropolitan areas, which dispose of unclaimed bodies after a few months, sometimes weeks, morticians in Orange County hold the Does' ashes for at least two years in hopes that somebody will come forward. The law doesn't require it; they do it by choice. The finality of burial merits the delay, Ellingburgh said.

Once the Does' ashes have been scattered, all earthly traces of them will be wiped out, he said. As if they had never existed.

If you only knew the POWER of the Daubert side

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