Judge orders exhumations in Jane Doe case to cease

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - On Monday, Circuit Court Judge Lisa Dodson ordered that no more exhumations be performed at the St. Joseph's cemetery, and declared all proceedings in the petition by Hancock County Coroner Jim Faulk related to a "Jane Doe" buried at the cemetery be closed.

Dodson's ruling comes in the wake of last week's discovery of a man's remains being located in a grave marked as Jane Doe.

Dodson had previously ruled that the coroner and other medical professionals could exhume the body to collect DNA for possible identification.

"Unfortunately, it appears that the remains at the Jane Doe headstone were not those of Jane Doe," Dodson wrote.

"Further, the chief medical examiner advises it is obvious that the location of her grave is unknown."

Last week, a team of forensic anthropologists from Mississippi State University began exhuming the grave which was marked with a headstone named Jane Doe.

Jane Doe is reportedly a woman who was killed on Interstate 10 in 1998 and was never identified.

Officials located human remains about three feet inside the grave, however, those remains were of an unknown man.

Officials said, the headstone marking her grave was moved from another location or the woman is possibly buried below the man.

Faulk said Friday that he was "disappointed" that the person buried at the grave was not Jane Doe.

Faulk and other law enforcement officers had speculated that Jane Doe could possibly be Nelda Hardwick, a woman who has been missing from the Lake Charles area since 1993.

Dodson said in her order that no more exhumations will be allowed at this time.

"It's unfortunate that the grave was not the proper one," Faulk said.

"Now, we may never be able to identify this woman."

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