Police reopen cold case murder
Pennsylvania State Police are hoping that new, digitally reconstructed photos will help them find out more about a pregnant young woman whose dismembered body was found in suitcases along the Lehigh River in East Side Borough in 1976.
The photos are of suitcases as they were before they had been spray painted black, pieces of an old and worn pink chenille bedspread with an embroidered yellow and green flower pattern, and an updated composite of the woman.All police know at this point is that the woman was believed to be of European descent, and between 15 and 25 years old, carrying a full-term female fetus, and had "WSR" followed by the numbers four or five below and to the right of a number six or seven on her right palm.The case prompted the creation of the Pennsylvania Missing Persons and Unidentified Victims website.A teenage boy, identified as 14-year-old Kenneth Jumper Jr., on Dec. 20, 1976, found the parts as he walked in the woods about 150 yards from his Kidder Township home near the Carbon/Luzerne county line.He told reporters he saw the head, torso and fetus lying on the ground and then the suitcases.Kenneth ran home to tell his brother, Richard, who came back to the woods with him. They ran back home and called police.When police arrived, they found three suitcases, all the same size, all with the handles cut off and spray painted black after being zipped closed holding the remains of the woman, who is being called "Beth Doe."Police believe someone threw the suitcases from the westbound lane of Interstate 80 in East Side Borough, and that they broke open on impact.An autopsy performed by Dr. Herbert J. Filinger of the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office on Dec. 23, 1976, determined that Beth Doe died of manual strangulation and ruled the death a homicide.Her remains, along with her fetus, were kept in the Philadelphia examiner's office until 1983. Then, they were buried in the Potter's Field in Laurytown, Lehigh Township.The body was exhumed on Oct. 31, 2007, in the hope that advanced technology could help determine her identity. However, those efforts failed.The only clues were newspapers found in the suitcase were dated Sept. 26, 1976, and linked to the areas of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Morris, Sussex, Passaic, Somerset and Union counties in New Jersey.Parts of the body were wrapped in a Sept. 26, 1976, edition of The New York Times.Pieces of the bedspread were also found in the suitcases. Police have not been able to determine who made the suitcases.State police have met with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children for a two-day comprehensive review of the case.They hope the photos and composite will help jog someone's memory and help solve the case.Anyone with information is asked to call Cpl. Thomas McAndrew at the Hazleton Barracks at 570-459-3890.Efforts to reach McAndrew for more information were unsuccessful.