Unidentified White Female Found October 24, 1977 near Bethany, Wayne County
Vital Statistics State of Remains: skeletal Estimated Height: 5'6"-5'7" Estimated Weight: 175 lbs Estimated Age: 65 Hair Color: unknown Eye Color: unknown Clothing: none Other: markings on the bones suggested that she may have been bedridden. Dentals: Available, extensive & expensive dental work including gold fillings and overlays. DNA: Available
Case Details On Monday, October 24, 1977, a turkey hunter stumbled upon human skeletal remains about 20 feet off of a dirt road in a wooded, uninhabited area between Bethany and Honesdale. Early reports stated that the remains had been stuffed into two plastic bags. Some reported that they were hidden in thick underbrush, another stated that they were found in a bunch of rhododendrons. Either way, the hunter could not have foreseen the headlines generated by his discovery.
The unidentified remains garnered national attention. They were described as a heavy-set, muscular, white male, around 5'6", with extensive gold dental work, age estimated around 60 years old. It was speculated that they may be the remains of union leader Jimmy Hoffa, who disappeared July 30, 1975 at the age of 62. The remains were sent to the New York City Medical Examiner's Office, who had the equipment and expertise to conduct a dental comparison between the unidentified person and Hoffa. The remains were not Hoffa and, as quickly as the headlines had appeared, the unknown skeleton faded from the news.
State police spoke with a resident who lived less than a mile from where the remains were found. She stated that earlier in 1977 she had seen a red pickup truck with NY plates parked near the site where the bones were discovered.
Three years later, an examination by a forensic anthropology consultant in Oklahoma determined that the remains were not those of a male, but a white female.
Little is known about how she died. Animals had apparently torn the bags from the body and they, and nature, had left only the bones, with no apparent evidence of foul play.
In May 2008, the Bethany Bones, as she had become known, were sent to the Center for Human Identification at the University of North Texas. UNT confirmed that the remains were of a white, 'older' woman. DNA was also extracted from the bones, but no match was produced when the DNA was run through the national missing persons databases.
On September 3, 2011, almost 34 years after she was found, this unknown lady was laid to rest in an old cemetery near Dyberry Creek, not far from where she was found. Her headstone is marked simply "Jane Doe 1977".
If you have any information about this case, please contact:
Wayne County District Attorney's Office 570-253-4912 or Wayne County Coroner's Office 570- 253-4952