3 On Your Side Investigates: Rankin Co. Jane Doe Cold Case Update
Grave exhumed for DNA samples
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - It was April 2021 when we first aired our 3 On Your Side investigation into Rankin County’s only Jane Doe cold case murder.
The case is a lot warmer now thanks to new technology and the determination of the Rankin County coroner.
Since our initial report aired, Rankin County Coroner David Ruth’s mission has been to convince a judge to allow the body of Rankin County’s only Jane Doe murder victim to be exhumed. After hearings presenting the evidence, Judge Dewey Arthur gave the go ahead. On April 27, 2022, the digging began.
”What I did was collected certain parts of Jane Doe that the forensic lab required to try to get DNA samples from, and we have those samples secured,” Ruth said. “And we’re preparing, coordinating with the lab to get everything shipped to them in hopes of getting a DNA extraction. And so to try to get a positive identification.”
Ruth says he is confident he will get that positive identification.
”I’m extremely confident, simply for the fact that we’ve found a lot more than they expected us to find. Just an extraordinary amount of evidence that was still there.” said Ruth.
The coroner continued, ”When when WLBT aired this story last year, my phone, the coroner’s office phone, my cell phone, it just started it was burning up all hours of the night, people from all over. I think there were on my social media page were like 180 reactions, 42 comments. But what was surprising to me as I look back over it, and was 319 people shared that story. So you think of 319 families that reached out to people that I don’t know. So this thing, it went out very, very large and very fast.”
Ruth initially speculated Jane Doe’s death could have been the work of prolific serial killer Samuel Little, since two of his victims are believed to have been in Mississippi...never identified. But there is new information that suggests the killer or killers are homegrown.
”I received a call from a former JPD detective, and he said that he believed that he had evidence of a person that was involved in the homicide of this person. And there was certain things that he said that was really close to elements of the crime and evidence that was found on saying,” Ruth said.
Evidence like the manner of death--blows to the head with a claw hammer--and the victim was wrapped in an old blanket that may have come from a motel. Ken Dickerson was a Rankin County investigator at the time.
”She had no clothes. It was nothing else at the scene, but just that blanket and her body,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson said Jane Doe’s body had been driven down below the old Byram Swinging bridge and dumped in an illegal trash pile on the Rankin County side 44 years ago. So, could the killer still be alive?
”Well at this point. I’m not going to comment on that because there were have multiple people there. And so in hopes of some of those people still being alive. If we get her identified, and we can trace her back to that location, then hopefully they will be able to run those people down,” said Coroner Ruth.
So, now the cold case is not so cold anymore, and after 44 years, the wait for final answers...who was she?...who killed her?... will have to continue.
A cold case like this can be expensive. So, who’s paying for it? Not the taxpayers. An anonymous donor interested in solving cold cases like this provided all the funding.
We will continue to follow this developing story.
Watch Part 1 below here:
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