Sunday, 16 April 2017

Burned body Wake County, North Carolina, 1968

So today I was having a look at some unidentified Jane Does when I stumbled upon this one case from the late sixties in North Carolina.

From what I can tell, the burned body of a woman was found the day after several people witnessed her walking towards a church in Wake County. They did not recognize the woman, but noted the green polka dot dress she was wearing as she walked along ten ten road. A quarter of an hour later when the witnesses drove back the same way the woman was nowhere to be found. They noticed smoke rising up from a nearby field, but assumed the source of it was nothing untoward and probably just a local farmer disposing of some unwanted materials.
They were shocked when the following day they heard the news that the burned body of the same woman they had driven past the day before was found.

I consulted Googlemaps to get an idea of what the location looks like and followed ten ten road to the nearest church, which appears to be the Holland united Methodist church.

However if you follow the road along, you can find two more churches including The McCullers community Baptist church and Highland Baptist church. The Doe network profile for the unidentified woman states that she was found near the town of Fuquay-Varina if that shines any light on the matter.

(From the Doe network)

There doesn’t really seem to be much information regarding this case, and the DN page even states at the bottom that “The whereabouts of the victim's remains are unknown” – It’s unclear if this is due to her burning overnight (although they recovered clothes, makeup items, I imagine bones etc. as well as some hair and fragments of her clothes obviously) or if her remains were simply lost or whatever. I’m leaning towards the remains were lost because they have a reconstruction image of Jane Doe from the newspaper report, and were also able to reveal that she was around 35 years of age, 130lbs, around 5”4 in height, had dark brown – black hair with signs of graying,noted a scar on the left side of her lower stomach and remarked that she had very small ears. 
She was thought to be Caucasian and possibly native American. Her dentals are on record as well as her blood type, so even though her remains are no longer around, there is still DNA, dentals and finger prints to go on. The Namus profile checks the “All body parts recovered” box.

The death was treated as a murder of course, and there was only ever one suspect who died in 1992. The DN report doesn’t identify him, but a newspaper article named him as Tobacco planter called Robert Reagan. Reagan’s family rejects the accusation, pointing out that he isn’t around to defend himself or stand a fair trial; however the man himself confessed that he followed the unidentified woman in a car with an acquaintance to get a look at her, but she disappeared from view.

Apparently Robert Reagan used to work in Canada and there’s this theory that the two met there and planned to meet in Wake County and he ended up killing her. I know she was from out of town and no one recognized her in the local area, but other than Reagan once working in Canada I’m not sure if there’s anything else that links Jane Doe to the country. I mean it’s a good idea to extend the search and circulate the missing posters there of course on the off chance, but there’s nothing else that I can see that suggests she was Canadian as no one talked to her and she didn’t have any items on her that would indicate she was.

Now for the items found with her body:

-She had a transistor battery
-A pair of tweezers (“Permo Tweeze” brand)
-A possibly navy hair net.
-Hair clips (Bobby pins?)
-A pair of brown and gold bifocal spectacles.
-A single razor blade folded in paper (Gillette)
-What was probably a make-up mirror in several fragments.
-Two buttons.
-Various toiletries and makeup by Helena Rubinstein New York including silk fashion liquid foundation, overnight cream and “Skin dew “crème.
-What is listed as “_ilk of _intimate” on the DN profile. A quick search turned up that it was most likely “Silk of Intimate” a fragrance by Revlon.  

(Images Doe network)

-A ballpoint pen cap with “Unipeco Mt. Vernon N.Y. U.S.A.” inscribed. –Some people imply that this meant she could have been from or in New York. All a search brings up is a pencil manufacturing directory website that lists as “Unipen co.” with the following information: “Union Pencil Co. - AKA Unipeco Mt. Vernon, NY USA”.
-I found a vintage pen by them for sale on eBay, so that gives us an idea of what it may have looked like (although there is various colors and designs of course)

Unless the cosmetics and pen were gifts from New York, it looks more likely that she’d traveled from there than rather than Canada. A bag isn’t listed on the items found, so unless it was taken it’s weird that someone would carry those items without a bag of some sort. Also, if she wasn’t from North Carolina or nearby, where was she staying? 
Did she just hop off a train or get a ride or what?
If so why? 
And how did she end up burned alive?
Her case was enteredinto Namus in February of this year.

 She remains unidentified. 
If you have any information contact the relevant authority on

Note: Strangely, while searching for more information on this case, I found a similar report, although considerably more recent. Just 18 miles away in February 2017, again in Wake County, NC, the body of a burning woman was discovered by disc golf players who didn’t even realize that the burning mound was a human body and attempted to put out the blaze. Although completely unrecognizable, the Doe was later confirmed to be a 59 year old woman identified as Elizabeth Marie Vandenbout, who had apparently committed suicide. There was reportedly a propane tank at the scene, as well as a cell phone.

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