SACRAMENTO – New technology is helping the Sacramento Police Department identify a Jane Doe from 2001.
Who am I? Not an existential question, but a very literal one.
The change of one victim image to another face is giving Sacramento police hope of identifying a Jane Doe who has remained a mystery to them for 17 years.
"Based on the evidence that they had at the time and what the autopsy showed at the time, it was the assumption that she was white, or light skinned from another race," said Officer Linda Matthew with the Sacramento Police Department.
The time was 2001; June 29th to be exact.
And a dumpster fire led officers to the grim discovery of a woman between 15 and 25-years-old who had been burned beyond recognition.
A first came 6 months later when deep tissue markers were used by forensic specialist Barbara Anderson to create a reconstruction of what the victim of this horrible crime might look like.
Unfortunately, that unprecedented step gave officers nothing new for 16 years.
Last year, they took another one, sending what degraded DNA they had to Virginia's Parabon Nanolabs for a new kind of test called Phenotyping.
"They're able to predict what someone's physical traits look like, shape of their face looks like even down to eye color, skin color, freckles if you had any," said Matthew.
And from that, they got the new face of their investigation into who's life was lost so violently so many years ago.
The picture is of a projected 25-year-old whose heritage is about 62 percent West African and 18 percent Northern European.
“I think it speaks well of the character and relentless effort on part of the police department to identify this person," said John McGinnis.
With more than 30 years of service at the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, former sheriff John McGinnis understands the frustration city officers have been facing.
"In a case when you can't go back and identify the victim it makes it very difficult to go back and determine with whom they may have had contact with; whom they may have had a grudge, under what circumstances they may have found themselves that ultimately led to their demise," said McGinnis.
"People have differences with their families, she could have been a runaway and was out living her own life. We don't know. We don't know who she is,” Matthew said.
Officers do know that this young lady was well cared for, for some time during her short life.
Her teeth were in excellent condition - no cavities or fillings and were protected with sealants, something usually done on young children.
"We're hoping someone sees this picture and says ‘oh my gosh, she looks like that girl that I used to know. I think it's her. I think I'll call,’" said Matthew.
"All of us suffer when you have that kind of crime occur and justice is denied," said McGinnis.
If you remember anything about this case from 2001 or now recognize the young lady in the phenotype image, Sacramento police wants to hear from you.