Second exhumation scheduled in ‘highly suspicious’ 51-year-old unsolved case
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Second exhumation scheduled in ‘highly suspicious’ 51-year-old unsolved case

HANOVER TWP. — Nearly eight years ago, the body of an unidentified black woman was exhumed from Maple Hill Cemetery for forensic testing.

Since identification was unsuccessful, a second attempt was made.

The exhumation of the remains of a woman whose body was found wrapped in a blanket and doused with sulfuric acid along Interstate 80 in Black Creek Parish is scheduled for later this month, possibly July 24.

“The location where her body was found, the manner in which she was wrapped, the witness statements, and the laboratory analysis showing the presence of sulfuric acid on her body make the manner of her death highly suspicious,” reads the petition for exhumation filed in Luzerne County Circuit Court by District Attorney Samuel M. Sanguedolce and Assistant District Attorney Carl Frank.

Judge Michael T. Vough on Tuesday signed the petition for the legal exhumation of the body, known as I80 Jane DOE.

The body of I80 Jane DOE was found in the westbound lanes of Interstate 80 near mile marker 250.6 on August 9, 1973. An autopsy performed by the late Dr. George E. Hudock did not reveal the cause or manner of death, but sulfuric acid was found on the body.

The woman was estimated to be between 20 and 30 years old, had brown eyes, was between 4 feet 10 inches and 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighed about 100 pounds. When she was found, she had brown hair in a short ponytail and was wearing blue and green shorts, a pink blouse with white lace, and blue slippers with a blue and green floral pattern, according to NamUS, a national database of unidentified and missing persons.

The blanket with which the body was wrapped was yellow and green and had safety pins at the legs.

Sanguedolce and Frank said the body was exhumed in 2016, but a DNA profile could not be obtained and samples were taken. After the 2016 exhumation and DNA collection by Dr. Erin Kimmerle of the University of South Florida, the body was reburied.

Sanguedolce and Frank, who filed the petition, believe that Dr. Kimmerle’s advanced and up-to-date forensic applications will aid in a second attempt to identify the body.

The second forensic examination is expected to include an autopsy, skeletal examination, dental examination, X-rays and an MRI scan, as well as additional DNA samples.

The cost of exhuming and conducting scientific testing of the unidentified body could exceed $10,000, but Dr. Kimmerle, according to the petition, has obtained a federal grant to fund the endeavor.