Including murder victims and those who died via natural causes or otherwise, approximately 40,000 decedents remain unidentified in the United States.
For some reason I find this Wikipedia entry extremely chilling. I suspect it has do with the pictures and sculptures that has a haunting and otherworldly aspect to them. It’s also extremely sad to know that no one is missing these people, they just ceased to be.
From The Wikipedia Article
Of the thousands of people murdered every year in the United States, several remain unidentified. Many of these individuals remain unidentified for years or even decades after their deaths. These cases include that of Tammy Jo Alexander, who was murdered in 1979 and remained an unidentified decedent until 2015, Reet Jurvetson, who was murdered in 1969 and whose body remained unidentified for 46 years, and Alisha Heinrich, a toddler thrown alive from the Interstate 10 bridge in 1982 and identified via genetic genealogy in 2020..
Barren County Doe
On August 8, 1989, a blue suitcase containing the skeleton of a toddler was discovered near the Barren River Lake, Glasgow, Barren County, Kentucky. The victim was estimated to have been between two and three years old and its sex was not possible to determine, though some believe that the child was female. The victim, who may have been biracial, had been deceased for one to six months and the case was ruled as a homicide. After it was made public that the body was found, a person claiming to be an attorney placed three phone calls to Kentucky State Police, requesting legal immunity for a woman in exchange for information the woman had about the child. However, after those three calls, the supposed attorney never contacted police again
Opelika Jane Doe
The skull of a girl of African heritage was discovered on January 28, 2012, in Opelika, Lee County, Alabama, concealed in the woods near a trailer park. Several other bones of this decedent were also subsequently recovered. Examiners concluded that she was between four and seven years old at the time of her death and had black hair. She is also presumed to have been “abused and malnourished” while alive and her death is presumed to be murder. Her height, weight and eye color could not be determined because of the advanced state of decomposition of her remains. The girl had likely died between 2011 and 2012. The victim has since been forensically reconstructed by the FBI Victims Identification Project and currently has her DNA being processed to compare to potential matches.
In 2016, the facial features of Opelika Jane Doe were forensically reconstructed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Subsequently, the photographs of an unidentified child seen at a vacation bible school in 2011 were linked with her. The child seen alive appeared to be neglected and could have suffered abuse, as she had visible damage to one of her eyes.
Wilmington John Doe (1993)
On September 13, 1993, the decomposing remains of a young Asian American or Native American man were discovered in a wooded area on the side of a local road near Interstate 95 in Wilmington, Delaware. Cause of death could not be ascertained, however it is believed he was killed through homicidal means, as he was found blindfolded and bound. He was estimated to have been dead for about two weeks. He was estimated to be between 20 and 40 years old, was between 5 feet 9 inches and 5 feet 11 inches tall, and weighed between 120 and 140 pounds. He had medium length, black, straight hair, and dark brown eyes. He also had evidence of a possible neck injury in the past as well as an extra long pinkie fingernail. Part of his right middle finger was also missing, however this was well healed and was most likely amputated during life. His dental records suggested that he may have smoked or chewed tobacco in life. He was found wearing a light colored Ralph Lauren brand polo jacket, a short sleeved T-shirt, a pair of tan Bugle Boy pants, white boxer shorts and a pair of leather shoes. Three unspent .38 caliber bullets wrapped in tissue paper were found in his pocket. The man’s fingerprints were sent to national databases, and many missing persons reports were compared, however they yielded no leads to the man’s identity.
Popes Island Jane Doe
The body of a woman aged between 30 and 45 years old was recovered from the Popes Island Marina in New Bedford, Bristol County, Massachusetts on October 30, 1996. The victim had been placed inside two garbage bags and then wrapped in a white and teal-colored wool blanket. She had suffered a blow to the head and was shot twelve times. She had been deceased for less than two days and her body had been in the water for less than a day.
The decedent was five feet two inches tall and approximately 127 pounds. The decedent had naturally light brown hair (which was dyed strawberry blond) and had brown eyes. She wore a yellow shirt, a white pullover with rectangular shapes and high heeled boots. She wore a gold ring with a green stone which experts say comes from Belarus, a part of the old Soviet Union. She had also received dental work that is believed to have been performed outside of the country. However, one instance of root canal surgery had been performed inside the United States. The woman had not shaved beneath her arms or shaved her legs, which may indicate she was from a foreign country with different cultural practices.
Because of the lack of identification and fingerprint matches, the woman may have entered the United States without documentation.