Survival Update

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Headless Woman Finally Identified Four Decades Later!

More than 42 years ago, troopers with the New York State Police responded to a travel trunk found near a dumpster at the Hudson View apartment complex in Fishkill, New York — about 70 miles north of Manhattan. Little could be ascertained about the torso of the woman inside, who became known as “Dutchess County Jane Doe” because her head and hands were never found.

However, recently, with the help of a Texas company that specializes in sophisticated DNA testing, “Jane” has been identified as Anne L. Papalardo-Blake, a 44-year-old New York City woman reported missing to the NYPD on March 18, 1980.

At the time of the grisly discovery, Investigators determined that the unknown woman was likely in her mid-twenties, approximately 5’6” in height, and weighed approximately 135 pounds. They also determined that her hair color was dark brown.

It is believed that the woman had been murdered only days before her discovery. The body was initially examined at the scene by the Dutchess County Medical Examiner, before being removed to Vassar Hospital in Poughkeepsie, where an autopsy was performed. Over the last four decades, investigators followed hundreds of leads, trying to identify the victim and the circumstances surrounding her death. Technological and forensic limitations of the time, however, prevented any positive identification of the victim.

However, earlier this year, the FBI working with scientists from Texas-based Othram Inc., used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the murdered woman, which revealed to be now identified Papalardo-Blake. She was last seen on March 18, 1980, at approximately 6:00 p.m., leaving her place of work, Vidal Sassoon, at 160 5th Avenue, New York, NY, where she was employed as a receptionist.

“The person or persons responsible for Anne’s death went through great lengths to ensure she would not be identified,” Othram Chief Development Officer Kristen Mittelman told the press. “But in the end, she was identified through an amazing collaboration between the NYSP, the FBI, and also the NamUs program, which funded Othram’s laboratory costs so our team could develop a DNA profile.”

While “Jane” has been identified, knowing who she is, has yet to shed any light on why she was killed or lead to any suspects in her disappearance and brutal murder. 

The case remains open, and detectives ask anyone with information to contact the New York State Police at 1-845-677-7300 with reference number 3020974.