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True Crime Series, The Unsolved: Baby Jane Doe of Opelika, Alabama

December 3, 2018justabelfastgirl

Disclaimer

Before I get into this case, I want to just put a disclaimer in place, this case is heartbreaking and tragic, the details of this case are brutal and may cause upset and may also be triggering to others who (like me) may have suffered abuse in their childhood. Please only read this if you think you can manage it.

I’d also like to say that my reason for sharing this case is not for any sort of entertainment purposes. This beautiful little girl deserves justice, I am sharing her story in the hopes whoever reads this chooses to share this post on their social media. Someone out there knows who she is, someone out their is guilty of what they did to her, someone out there needs to be brought to justice.

It doesn’t matter how small your information relating to this case may be, whether you aren’t sure, but think you might know her, I urge you to contact the numbers I’ll be including at the bottom of this post. Any information that can be given is information the police can use to lead them to the truth.

Thank you for reading this disclaimer, please be respectful in the comments and please, I beg of you, please share Baby Doe’s story wherever you can, with whoever you can so we can bring her killer to justice.

Background of the Case

On the 28th January 2012, a little boy from the surrounding area of Hurst Street, Opelika, Alabama is in a vacant lot near the Brookhaven trailer park. Whilst in the vacant lot he comes across a human skull with the lower mandible missing. The police are called and they visit the area, they look around hoping to find other remains and a means to identify the owner of the remains, but they don’t find anything further during their first, initial search.

Two days later on the 30th January 2012, several teams including the Opelika Police, Auburn Police, Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Lee County Coroner’s Office searched the area behind Brookhaven trailer park. They do an extensive search and end up expanding their perimeters to a nearby wooded area. It is there they find the lower mandible that was missing from the skull found by the little boy just days earlier.

The mandible was found in a copse of trees, near the creek and the teams found further skeletal remains with the mandible. The wooded area was close to the trailer park, the jaw itself could have been carried to the vacant lot by an animal, in a way I’m glad, as if said animal hadn’t of done that, then it’s not known if Baby Doe’s remains would ever have been found. 

The town of Opelika has an estimated 25,000 residents, which is small in comparison to the other states in the US. The remains were sent to the capital of Montgomery, Alabama for forensic testing. The hope was that the medical examiner could pull together some sort of profile that the authorities could use in order to try and identify Baby Jane Doe.

The autopsy results did give the authorities a profile, but it also gave an insight to what must have been a horrific life and death, no doubt at the hands of Baby Jane Doe’s killer. Dental analysis confirmed that Baby Doe was a little girl between the ages of 4 – 7 years old. Her teeth (what was left of them) were under developed and that she was of African American descent.

The size of her skull estimated that she could have been younger than the specified age, or had a disability affecting the growth of her bones. there was also a high possibility of malnourishment being the cause of delayed growth. This could also be a result of neglect and abuse.

Image Credit to Opelika Police Department

Baby Jane Doe’s remains had extensive injuries from damage to her left eye socket, injuries to her bones that weren’t made by animals. Sargent Richard Converse told CBS News that her injuries would have been very debilitating and that it was really horrible that someone could have done that to a small child. Her death was ruled a homicide and the authorities didn’t disclose the actual cause of death, bearing in mind that they didn’t find all of her remains.

Authorities sometimes refrain from telling the public what the cause of death was due to lack of evidence, which could be the case here as there was no viable tissue to speak of and other than clear evidence of abuse there were no other wounds to speak of, such as a bullet hole or stab wound that went deep enough to hit a bone. Another possibility of authorities not telling the public of the cause of death could be because it is crucial to the case.

Due to the state of decomposition the medical examiner could not confirm the height, weight or other measurements of Baby Doe, there was no way to confirm her eye colour or any other identifiable features such as skin tags (moles/freckles) and no evidence of any medical conditions other than the damage to her left eye socket. 

Close to the remains there was a little pink long sleeved t-shirt. The t-shirt had a circle neckline, pink heart-shaped buttons and ruffles along the outside. It has not been confirmed if this was Baby Doe’s, but it’s more than likely. There was no evidence of anything on the clothing, if there was nothing was disclosed to the public. There was no other evidence of any clothing having been found in or around the area where the remains and the t-shirt was found.

The police and medical examiner could confirm that she had medium length black, tightly curled hair which is shown in the composite sketch. It was also identified that Baby Doe’s teeth were smaller than other children of her age range which could have meant they stuck out, looked odd or out of shape. An isotope analysis test confirmed Baby Doe was from the Southern Eastern states (Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia areas). The authorities felt it was most likely that due to the location where her remains were found leads the authorities to believe that whoever took her and dumped her broken little body would have been from, or familiar with the area in question.

Whilst I agree that may be the case, I have done enough research and read enough of these cases to know that evil predators (which is why they are probably called predators) stalk their prey, they stalk out surroundings, often visiting several times before making any moves. This could have been the case for the person dumping the little body, they may have attempted to dump her body before, but were caught out, or they knew at certain times no one would be near this copse of trees. They didn’t have to be from that area to be able to achieve their overall goal.

There were clear signs that Baby Doe was physically abused, this would have been evident when Baby Doe was alive. There was an assumption that her hygiene may have been poor, or she may have been a sickly child, thin due to malnourishment and neglect.

Opelika Baby Jane Doe
Baby Jane Doe Composite – Image Credit to Opelika Police Department & FBI

The medical examiner said that Baby Doe could have died between 8 months to 2 years before her remains were discovered. By my calculations that means she would have been killed between as early as December 2009 to April 2011. 

Once the autopsy had been completed, the authorities went public once more with what they knew about Baby Jane Doe. This sent shockwaves through the Opelika and Lee County communities. Within the first week of the investigation the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) had joined the Opelika, Auburn County and Lee County teams. They sent Baby Doe’s remains were sent to the FBI Headquarters in Quantico, California for further DNA testing.

They were successful in abstracting DNA in the FBI HQ, but there were no DNA markers similar to Doe’s in the database. The neighbourhood was canvessed, the area were she was found was searched again, the schools in the local and surrounding areas were spoken to, Child Services were contacted, Paeditric Clinics, doctor’s, nurses and hospital’s were visited and the authorities were looking for anyone or anything linking to Baby Doe.

This could have been anything from a birth record, dental records, adoption records, fostering records, school papers or hospital records, but they didn’t find anything. I find this strange as unless she was born at home and had the deformity in her eye from birth, then surely there would be evidence of this somewhere. They were searching for anything to identify this little girl, that had her life so cruelly stolen away at the hands of an absolute monster (or monsters).

There was a high probability that whoever had Baby Doe had kept her hidden away from the public eye which could be why the authorities didn’t find anything to identify her in their visits to local institutions. The child may have never gotten a chance to attend school, may never have been registered with a doctor or, health professional, may never have even had her birth registered. 

This is something that haunts me even as I write this. This little girl deserved so much more than what she had, it makes me wish that the orphanages from back in the day were still a thing, maybe if they were Baby Doe could have been dropped off there, no questions asked, adopted to a loving family and lived a very different life than the one she had. Whoever had her, didn’t have her best interests at heart, I wonder where the mother is and if she knows what has become of her child, or if she herself is in danger, I’ve so many questions, but no answers.

Six months into the investigation the FBI released a 3D sketch of what Baby Doe may have looked like when she was alive. They had limited structuring to work with so did their best to get as accurate of a composition as possible to help aid identity. The images  were distributed by all the local news outlets that showed the images as part of their daily news stories. This would have meant newspaper articles (both online and offline), news bulletins on TV, radio news bulletins and possibly distributed across social media outlets.

Beautiful Baby Jane Doe – Image Credit to Opelika Police Department

Her short life was full of suffering, and someone knows something, they need to come forward. I will keep repeating this as I go through the case, because someone does, we just want her to be named, the authorities want to give her the burial she deserves and we all want the person or persons brought to justice. 

Years have past and there were no developments to speak of, no confirmation of who Baby Doe was, where she came from, how long she was really exposed to the elements before her remains were found and who left her there, alone. I’d like to say at this point that karma is an absolute bitch of a beast, if the person that knows who Baby Doe is, who may be reading this or not, or withholding vital from information from the authorities and that is a crime, a crime you’ll pay for (in hopefully more ways than one.

I also believe in there being some form of torture after death that isn’t Hell, but it’s where all the paedophiles, rapists, murderers and child abusers go to suffer and have all the worst inhumane things done to them.

The residents of Brookhaven trailer park told authorities that in the Autumn/Fall of the year before Baby Doe was found, they recalled a decaying smell (2011) coming from the area. There’s no full-proof evidence that the smell was Baby Jane Doe so it can’t be completely linked, but it does make me wonder why no-one thought to sought out the smell? Like, if it were me, I’d be looking for the source of the smell because it was annoying the hell out of me. Maybe if someone had, I’d not be telling this story, or be telling a different one. 

Developments

Image Credit to NAMUS (Linked below)

Around four years into the investigation, the Lee County Coroners Office worked with the authorities to draw another composite sketch of Baby Jane Doe. These images were released in August 2016 and not long after their release, the authorities get a call from a teacher at Vacation Bible School (popular in the US), Greater Peace Baptist Church, Opelika. The woman had information and pictures relating to a child of around the age 4 or 5. She taught at the VBS in summer 2011 which was a year before Baby Doe’s body was found, which if the child she spoke of was Baby Doe, brought the medical examiners initial timescale down by A LOT.

She felt the child she knew of bore a strong resemblance to the images of Baby Jane Doe. She provided authorities with images of a little girl with a deformity in her left eye that she thought were Baby Jane Doe. She described Baby Doe as a quiet child that had trouble communicating with others, she couldn’t remember the child’s name. 

The lady in question received a barriage of negativity on social media outlets that have covered the case because she couldn’t remember the child’s name. Other so called “teachers” of VBS said they could remember names of the children they taught over 11 years ago. To those people I say, “good for you”, I can’t remember what I did yesterday, never mind remembering the name of kids I babysat when I was 12. I ask that my readers refrain from negativity towards the woman as the images alone were a massive development in the case. We are here for Baby Doe, not to be negative to adults involved in the case (other than said abusers and killers) and negativity won’t be tolerated.

The authorities went to the church armed with this new information, they went to schools and all the other places they’d visited before, but to no avail. Through my research I have found that not all of the VBS churches involved had a specific registration as such, most of the time the kids would be collected in a van/bus and taken to the church. Parents saw it as free daycare.

The church would know where in the area would have came from, they didn’t need to be church goer’s, neither did their parents. It was suggested that the authorities go house to house, but there is no indication in my research that it had happened. A Reddit user also disclosed that there was an open door policy so kids could come and go with no need to attend with an adult supervision. The churches advertise in summer months and when the children were off school, some programmes were free, whereas other would charge fees.

Images provided by teacher from Opelika BVS – Image Credit to CBS News & Opelika Police Department

Even if authorities had of gone door to door, there is nothing to say that the neighbours would have recognised her. This is going on the basis that there wasn’t a single piece of paper identifying this little girl. It’s thought she was kept out of the public eye, but until her identity is known we won’t know.

Baby Doe was malnourished so she could have gone there for a free meal, snacks and no doubt for human interactions. BVS provided all of that, it’s not known if she attended BVS on just the occasions where she was pictured, or if she attended regularly, but nobody remembers her or her name. As you can see from the images, the child is blind in her left eye, but there are no other obvious signs of abuse. Most abusers know, you hit where they can’t see, where your bruises are hidden by clothes or (in my case and others) your hair.

Detective Sargent Alfred White said it best, somebody knows something. No one knows who a black female child who is blind in her left eye is, in Opelika. He’s basically calling bullshit, which I agree is definitely the case here. You can hear the emotion in his voice as he speaks about her. I encourage you to watch the video of the press conference which I have linked, here.

In March of 2018 the Governor agreed to release $5000 reward for information on the identity of Baby Jane Doe. The $5000 was matched by a local citizen bringing the total to $10,000. The authorities believe that the little girl from the BVS images is Baby Jane Doe, but without further images, information or DNA they can’t know for sure. If you are from Alabama, live near Alabama, know someone from there or have family in the surrounding states then please share this on social media, let’s get Baby Doe out there, let’s get her some justice.

As part of my research I did for the case I looked into how many children were missing between those times. There is 260,977 female children under the age of 21 missing in US. That’s just the ones that have been reported. There is 232,179 male children under the age of 21 missing in the US. That is 493,156 children under the age of 21, MISSING. Yet, there are so many children that remain nameless, so many adults nameless, with no one to bury them. Of late I’ve been tormenting myself about the amount of bodies that have gone undiscovered and how helpless I feel.

It’s shockingly sad and whilst I understand the need to not have DNA on a database, if it became a legal requirement that DNA was to be kept on a database, so many so cold cases could be solved. I also believe so many rapists, predators, paedophiles, murderers and monsters would be put behind bars and I for one would openly give my DNA if I thought it would help solve a crime.

This is all the information I have to date, I wanted to include a few sites I recommend you looking at if you know of any missing people, especially within the US. 

Unidentified Murder Victims in the US

Unidentified Decedents in the US

NAMUS

If you have any information on the case of Baby Doe then please contact the Opelika Police Department Investigative Services Division on (334) 705 5220 and if you wish to remain anonymous you can also call the Secret Witness Hotline on (334) 745 8665.

Theories

These are just my theories which I thought I’d include since I’ve done so much research on it, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on my theories and if you come up with your own. in the comments below. The sad thing is, this is all we can do, speculate what happened, but until someone grows a set of balls and comes forward we will never truly know what happened. I saw someone comment that they hope this doesn’t become another “Boy in the Box” and I started to tear up because I know that case well. I may cover it if I feel I can, as like this one, it hit me in a very sensitive nerve.

  1. Born to a teenage mother who couldn’t care for her properly, or perhaps didn’t want her.
  2. Product of rape, incest, sexual assault and it was taken out on the child, which should never be the case.
  3. Baby Doe was abducted from another state or even country, was abused before being murdered and dumped in a remoted location.
  4. The mother is a victim of domestic violence/abuse and the partner (male or female) beat the child to death and now the mother is being forced to live with said abuser unable to leave and is a victim herself.
  5. Parents are deceased and the child was sent to live with a relative or foster family that abused and neglected her until her dying day.
  6. Baby Doe was a trafficked child, either for the purposes of selling her on, being kept as a slave which is unlikely if the images from BVS are her, then was murdered and dumped.
  7. She is one of many children in the surrounding states that have been abducted and murdered. Many of those being Baby Doe’s, too and it’s the hands of a serial child killer or group of individual’s. 
  8. Someone from the BVS church is responsible, they noticed she wouldn’t be missed and took full advantage of that.
  9. She was accidentally murdered by a sibling and the crime was covered up by parents that didn’t want to lose another child (I’ve seen these cases before).

Again, these are merely theories and there is no evidence to suggest I am close to the truth in any of those theories. I do extensive research on cold cases because if you didn’t already know, this is what I want my job to be when I qualify. I want to be able to help solve cold cases by profiling the killers or the victims.

If you have been troubled by the details of this case, have experienced any kind of abuse or may know someone who is then I have included a small list of charities below.

I’m sorry I couldn’t do it for all my readers’ countries, I’ve only picked the countries with the highest viewing. Please contact your local Police Department who may be able to put you in touch with charities, failing that, contact me and I’ll get the information for you.

Again, I want to stress that if you know of any child or vulnerable adult (this includes those with physical/mental disabilities or a vulnerable elderly person) then please contact your local police department or one of the charities, below.

Northern & Southern Ireland & the rest of the U.K.

NSPCC

Domestic Violence Hotline

Women’s Aid

Victim Support

Nexus NI

International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children

National Crime Agency (only use this to report online crime such as child abuse images)

US & Canada

National Centre for Missing or exploited Children

Domestic Violence Hotline

If you are feeling suicidal or need to speak to someone then please contact MIND.

Rest Easy Baby Jane Doe, know that you are loved and mourned by those of lives you touched by the tragedy that befell you. I hope I did you some justice and that wherever you are, you are safe and free from harm.

Thank you for taking the time to read this case and to those of you  who choose to share this post, thank you. It just takes one person, the right person, to see this case. It’s my hope that Baby Jane Doe will be named and those who harmed her, brought to justice at last.

Be safe and be kind, everyone.


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Comments (8)

  • Karen Bradshaw

    December 3, 2018 at 9:19 am

    What a sad case. It’s horrific enough when adults are murdered and abused but to do it to a helpless child is the epitome of evil in my opinion. I will share this post

    1. justabelfastgirl

      December 3, 2018 at 12:23 pm

      I totally agree, Karen. My heart broke doing research on this case. It makes me feel sick that someone out there knows what happened to her, but aren’t speaking up. I’d understand the fear if it was another child afraid to speak up, but imho if it’s an adult then there is no reason why they can’t. I try not to judge, as I get there may be danger involved, but they can be protected. I just hope the more exposure Baby Doe gets, the closer we are to getting her a name and justice. Thanks for reading.

  • Stephen Heatley

    December 3, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    Was so well researched and written

  • Rachel

    December 4, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    What a sad and awful story. I had never heard it before, but you did incredible research and provided an amazing post. It kills me how often children go missing, and even children being found and never identified. I once heard a story of a girl who was identified almost 20 years later and her killer had already died. That poor girl, I imagine she did go to the church for food or safety. Also, props to the teacher for recognizing her. Even though she didn’t have a name, she had a picture. For those criticizing her, shame on them. If every other teacher in the world had that memory, why are kids still going unidentified?

    Your theories make sense. I do think maybe her death was an accident given she was just haphazardly left. Like it seems almost like her body was dumped without a care or in a hurry. I’m almost leaning towards she was abused to badly she died and the parent, who didn’t want her even, just disposed of her where they thought nature would take care of it. Ugh. This breaks my heart.

    Also, I’m very sorry to read of your own experiences. I’m glad you’re working on healing though. Sending much love!

    Cheers xx

    Rachel | http://www.myspottedblog.com

  • Derbyshireduckie

    December 7, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    I hate that we live in a world where such innocence is obliterated by pure evil. I applaud you for doing what you can to bring these cases to our attention as a way for justice or trying to stop such acts. My heart bleeds for this poor little lass.

    1. justabelfastgirl

      December 7, 2018 at 10:39 pm

      She’s been in my dreams since I posted this, yesterday I slept for 24 hours on/off as I’ve barely slept. I just can’t get her and the other kids off my mind. All it would take is a call, just an anonymous call to say her name is this… if they wanna be a coward and not admit to the killing, but at least let someone know her name. It just makes me more determined to get my PhD in Forensic Psychology so I can ruin the lives of every child killer I ever come across. If anything, I’m frustrated I can’t do more.

    2. justabelfastgirl

      December 18, 2018 at 1:40 pm

      There is another blog you might want to follow, it basically just names sex offenders in the U.K. and I think they do missing person’s cases, too. Let me know if you want the link and I’ll DM you it on Twitter, later xo

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    January 7, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    […] Love a good true crime story? Interested in helping to raise awareness on cold cases? Click here. […]

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