|Princess Doe: Dead among strangers|
|A 1982 murder remains unsolved, but not forgotten|
Unlike her more famous counterpart, Princess Doe was likely near the bottom rung of the socio-economic ladder. She was a white teen-ager — a runaway in all likelihood, according to authorities — whose face was beaten beyond recognition in July 1982. Her body was then dumped alongside a cemetery on Route 94 in Blairstown, N.J., a speck of a town just 15 minutes east of Stroudsburg.
Despite countless attempts to identify her — including a 20-minute spot on an HBO crime special that aired in 1983 — authorities know little more about the murder victim than they did 15 years ago: She was between 14 and 18 years old and was wearing a red V-neck pullover, a red, white and blue print wraparound skirt and a gold chain with tiny white beads and a 14-karat gold cross.
Authorities also know that somebody was very angry at the girl, angry enough to bludgeon her face beyond recognition with a blunt object. Who that person is and the murder weapon have never been determined.
Police sources have said it is very rare that a murder victim, particularly one who is so young, is still unidentified 15 years later.
The case is old, but not forgotten. As recently as September the Warren County, N.J., Prosecutor's Office learned that the young woman likely was working in the tourist town of Ocean City, Md., from 1979 to 1982 as a hotel housekeeper. Presumed by police to be a runaway, she used several aliases, investigators have learned.
This month — 15 years after the community of Blairstown buried the girl near the lonely spot where her battered body was dumped — Princess Doe made headlines again, this time in theNew York Times .
A prestigious group of current and former federal agents, former prosecutors and forensic specialists from around the world called the Vidocq Society met recently in Philadelphia to discuss the case.
The private group is named after a 19th-century French detective credited with introducing the use of scientific tools and extensive record-keeping into police work. The elite group brainstorms on cold murder cases, sometimes offering insight that those who had investigated may have overlooked. The society has been credited with helping police throughout the country solve several cases.
Frank Bender, a Philadelphia artist and forensic sculptor who made a bust of Princess Doe to help police put a face on the victim, is one of the founders of the prestigious group that boasts 82 original members and 100 special members. He and at least one other member had worked on the Princess Doe case, and it was their interest that brought it the attention of the society.
Vidocq spokesman Dick Lavinthal, who works as a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Department of Justice, said the society provides professional investigators with a "cadre of law enforcement and forensic experts at no cost.''
The society meets bi-monthly in Philadelphia to discuss cases, and several members typically will form an ad-hoc committee to pursue cases they think they can help on, he said.
Because the Princess Doe case is active, Lavinthal said he could not comment specifically on what other avenues were being pursued. Any fruitful information, he said, would be turned over to the Warren County, N.J., Prosecutor's Office, which is following up on new leads.
Present at the Vidocq meeting was Warren County Prosecutor John J. O'Reilly, who was in Philadelphia to see if this group of experts could help his office develop any information.
O'Reilly said members helped him with profiles of what the killer could be like. He is hopeful that someone in the society may turn up a substantial lead.
The case, O'Reilly said, has been particularly difficult because authorities still do not know the identity of the girl.
"It is a very troubling thing that there are kids who are runaways, and no one bothers to report them as missing. As a result, there's no record that these kids are out there somewhere.''
While O'Reilly and his detectives continue their footwork, the gravestone marking the girl's plot serves as a grim reminder of the perplexing case:
This page was added to Pocono Record On line on Monday, December 15, 1997
Copyright 1997 Pocono Record