Cold Case: Investigators exhume body of unidentified Baby Jane Doe

Baby Jane Doe #2 was found in a Jackson County river in 1988. She remains unidentified.
Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 2:09 PM CDT
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PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - It was 33 years ago on June 30, 1988, that an autopsy was performed on a newborn baby found in a Jackson County river. For more than three decades, the baby has remained unidentified, only being referred to as Baby Jane Doe #2.

Now, cold case investigators with Jackson County Sheriff’s Department are hoping to find out who the baby is. On Wednesday morning, authorities gathered at Jackson County Memorial Park in Pascagoula to exhume the infant’s body, hoping a fresh set of eyes will help shed light on the long-unsolved case.

Baby Jane Doe #2 has been buried at Jackson County Memorial Park in Pascagoula for 33 years...
Baby Jane Doe #2 has been buried at Jackson County Memorial Park in Pascagoula for 33 years since being found in a Jackson County river.(Jackson County Sheriff's Dept.)

Little is known about Baby Jane Doe #2. Her tiny body was found June 28, 1988, by two men fishing in the Pascagoula River near the wildlife management area in the Wade community. She was entangled in fishing line.

An autopsy two days later on June 30, 1988, revealed that she was just three to five weeks old and had drowned in the river.

For 33 years, she has laid next to Baby Jane Doe #1, an 18-month-old girl dubbed “Delta Dawn” who was found in a Jackson County river in 1982. Delta Dawn and her mother were identified last year.

No suspects were ever found in the death of Baby Jane Doe #2, said Sheriff Mike Ezell. Cold case investigator Matt Hoggatt is hoping to finally discover who the baby girl belongs to.

“It’s always a gamble, particularly when you have a body that’s been in the ground 30 or 40 years, given the water table,” he told WLOX. “Given the fact we’ve had multiple hurricanes and the heat and the environment, in general, it’s a gamble. You never know until you get in the ground and get that person out and, you know, it’s just something you have to pray on and hope for the best.”

Now, thanks to donations, authorities will hopefully soon find out who she is, where she came from, and how she ended up in the river.

“This case, we are trying to locate relatives of the victim and ultimately give the victim her name back,” said Hoggatt.

Those donations are making it possible for the sheriff’s department to take a closer look at this case. A grant from the nonprofit organization Season of Justice, which is in Baltimore, is providing the funding necessary to conduct DNA testing. With investigators needing DNA samples, exhuming the body was necessary. Fortunately, the owner of the Jackson County Memorial Park where Baby Jane Doe #2 was buried was able to donate the resources to cover the cost of exhumation.

Those DNA samples will then be sent to Redgrave Research Forensic Services in Massachusetts. Researchers there will then try to build a genetic profile of the child’s family history in the hopes of identifying relatives.

Donations to nonprofits, like Season of Justice, are crucial to providing the funds needed to conduct DNA testing for hundreds of unsolved cases across the country. To learn more about their efforts and how you can donate, visit the organization’s website.

Anyone who may have information that can help solve this cold case is urged to contact Jackson County Sheriff’s Department at 228-769-3063.

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