*Warning. Graphic details to follow.
On the 20th of December, 1976, a White Haven, Carbon County resident made a gruesome discovery.
At around 4:30pm the fourteen year old boy found three suitcases near the Lehigh River.
The cases were all the same dimension; however the materials and patterns differed. Two of them were blue soft vinyl with red, white and blue stripe motifs across the upper front panel, and the other was a dark blue plaid with a tan vinyl outline. All three had been sprayed with matte black spray paint and had deliberately removed handles (possibly to eliminate fingerprints)
They appeared to have been thrown from the bridge 300 foot above (may be an attempt to submerge them in the river below) and two of the three were open, spilling out grisly contents.
The severed head and two parts of the torso of a young Caucasian woman and her full term fetus were strewn over the river bank. Later investigators would open the third to reveal the woman’s other limbs, some of which had been wrapped up in pieces of a dirtied dark green and pink Chenille quilt. Her severed breasts, nose and ears, however, were never found. Police estimated that she had only been dead for the past 7 – 24 hours. Several pages from the September 26th 1976 edition of New York Sunday Newspaper were wrapped around the dismembered torso and Styrofoam and straw were used as packing insulation.
Clasped in the palm of the victim’s left hand was writing on her skin in ink. The letters WSR and what was either a number 4 or 5 followed. Below and to the right, a number 7 or 4. Investigators ran the numbers in hopes they would lead to clues in solving what they determined was a homicide by strangulation as well as a gunshot to the throat, but nothing turned up.
Isotope analysis determined that the unidentified woman was born and lived in central or possibly Western Europe before immigrating to the United States. Examination of hair, bone and tooth enamel indicated that she had most likely spent her last 5 years living in the southeast, likely Tennessee.
She came to be known as Beth Doe- a petite, heavily pregnant dark haired woman with an olive complexion and dark brown eyes. Some missing person’s websites propose that she was possibly of Mediterranean heritage. Vital stats state that had a few distinguishing features including a scar just under 6inches long above her left heel, and two moles on her face, one on her left cheek and one sitting above her left eye.
Some have entertained the idea that the murder was an honor killing , possibly a punishment for adultery (Take away thy nose and thine ears) or that Beth Doe was fleeing an abusive relationship or escaping the sex trade. Some suggest WSR could possibly stand for "women's services and resources" and she was heading to a shelter to escape domestic violence.
One reddit user named Riddleskittle put forward an idea centered around this theory:
"After some searching I found out that there was (and still is) a newly opened (1975) women's resource center located in Centre County PA , roughly two hours due west from Carbon County. To travel from this center to Carbon County you would need to take I-80. The same road the police believe was taken. If this is related to the case this would lead me to believe Beth doe is local and perhaps the numbers written on her hand are also a local number. If, for instance, the resource center had a phone number and area code similar to her own she would need to only write the last four digits to help her remember. Here is the center's Web page which lists it's history and it's opening in 1975, this could also explain her running from an abusive relationship as that seems to be the center's speciality. (Again, perhaps the luggage was her own?) Hitch hiking was not uncommon perhaps she hoped to get there that way, or, was picked up from the facility from an irate partner. http://ccwrc.org/about-ccwrc/founding-philosophy/"
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