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Saturday, December 12, 2020

Decemystery (2020) 12: Mount Vernon Jane Doe (1988)


There’s something about unidentified murder victims that makes my skin crawl. Never mind how they have no name and their story is as mysterious as can be, but staring at the digital reconstructions sends shivers down my spine. To not know what they may have looked like is something that’s equal parts saddening and unnerving. It’s like you’re staring at someone who has no face.

In the case of today’s story—that of the Mount Vernon Jane Doe—I can’t help but find the story exceptionally saddening. A young woman who was around my age, was tied up, beaten, strangled, and then dumped like trash on the side of a road. Worst of all? This took place not too far from where I live—a little over an hour. While that may seem far to some, I’m someone who’s historically found an hour-long  drive to be nothing. I digress though, let us dive into this sordid tale and see who this young lady was, and who may have taken her life.

The Story

As a preface: this lady is referred to as the “Westchester Jane Doe” by Wikipedia. Why exactly that is, I don’t know. The woman was found in Mount Vernon, which is in Westchester, though everywhere else refers to her as the Mount Vernon Jane Doe. It’s a small detail that really irks me and I dislike it.

Anyways: on Sunday, February 14, 1988, the nude body of a young woman was found at 22 Carlton Avenue in Mount Vernon in Westchester, New York, roughly ten miles (or sixteen kilometers) from Manhattan in New York City. It was said that she had been “posed”, with the only description of said pose being that her arms were out to her side and her legs having been crossed at her ankles.

No clothing was found near the body and to date, none has ever been recovered that belonged to her. It would later be estimated that the woman had been placed at the scene around six to twelve hours prior to her discovery. For context: she was discovered at 11:54 A.M., so she was likely placed there during the night.

The woman was believed to be between the age of 18 and 30—though some tighten this gap to about 18 and 25. No matter what the case is though, the woman was fairly young and was somewhere between 90 and 120 pounds (40 and 54 kilograms) and stood at approximately 5 feet, 3 inches (1.6 meters. Both of her ears had been pierced, but there were no earrings found. Her eyes were hazel and her hair was straight and either light brown or bleach blonde (for those unfamiliar with what that is, it’s the super light blonde that you see many northern Europeans and Germans portrayed with) in color.

The woman’s face was covered in freckles and she had a few moles—one of which was fairly large and on her neck. This particular mole was one of many identifiable traits. Another was that there was a large birthmark on the right side of the woman’s neck—one that is easily spottable in the postmortem photos (which I will not be linking or showing here because they’re quite unnerving). Sadly, these identifiable markings never led to anyone coming forward to identify the woman.

One of the more interesting details was that of the woman’s body hair. Her eyebrows were described as being “unkempt” and her armpits hadn’t been shaved in what was said to have been “approximately two weeks”. Despite that, her pubic hair had. This led authorities to suspect that the woman was perhaps a prostitute. This detail has, of course, never been confirmed, but do keep it in mind for later.

Now, given that the woman’s armpits hadn’t been shaved, authorities also speculated that the woman may have been foreign—perhaps of South American descent. Where exactly, I don’t know as no website gives a specification and I’m unfortunately unfamiliar with South American culture (I’m personally of Greek, German, and Hungarian descent—anything else is up in the air for me). So, I do apologize for being uneducated in this regard (man that sounds sarcastic; I swear I didn’t mean for it to). This theory, however, could explain why the woman was never identified; if she had been a tourist from South America, her family may have speculated that she ran off with someone in the States. Though there’s nothing really pointing to that, so let’s move on.

The woman’s nails had been painted pink or reddish-pink at some point before her death. Exactly where she had gotten them done isn’t known—just like nearly every other factor of her death; some say that her nails may have been fake, press-on nails. I honestly don’t know if these are one-in-the-same because I’m about as inept with fashion as can be, so if anyone can educate me on this detail too, please do.

On one final note: her teeth were said to have been in extremely good condition; she had no fillings or any decay. So, I believe it would be safe to say that she was nothing if not very good with personal hygiene.

That was the woman in the way of her appearance. Now for exactly what happened to her. That’s a really morbid tale to tell. She had suffered a beating—the exact details of which I cannot find, but the assault wasn’t what killed her. That was caused by asphyxiation and it was quite apparent given the ligature marks on her neck. She had also at some point been tied up as there were marks on both her wrists and ankles. Finally, after the autopsy had been performed, it was discovered that the woman had ingested both broccoli and cocaine prior to being murdered. For whatever reason, this had led some websites to put forth the idea that this may have been the work of a serial killer. I’ll talk about this more in a little while though.

With all of that said, that’s where the story ends. Yes, I’m serious. This story has remained as cold as the void of space for the past 32 years. Nothing—and I mean nothing—appears to have ever come out about it. This poor woman has remained nameless and her killer has presumably remained at large the entire time. As I said earlier: no articles of clothing have ever been found. No earrings have ever been found. No one appears to have had any interaction[s] with her. For all intents and purposes, the Mount Vernon Jane Doe may as well have appeared from out of thin air.

While that may seem really difficult to believe, I tried my absolute best to find any information on this; any sort of update. As far as I can tell, there hasn’t been anything that would indicate that law enforcement here in New York have received any sort of critical update[s] that indicate some sort of possible resolution to at least the aspect of the woman’s identity.

It’s because of this lack of updates that I feel it’s best if we simply move onto the theories section now. The case of the Mount Vernon Jane Doe is a really sad one in my eyes. Nothing—and I mean nothing—is available as far as I can tell. The story begins and ends at the discovery of her body. It’s depressing to imagine that a case could go cold as soon as it came to be. Alas, not all crimes will be solved. Sometimes, the trail is cold from the get-go.


1. It was the work of a serial killer

Serial killers are creatures of habit; they like to remain within a comfort zone and seldom move out of it. The Zodiac is a good example of how a serial killer can break the mold, but by and large, they stick to what they’re good at. It’s because of this that, when I saw the speculation that this may have been the work of one of these monsters, I immediately went about seeing if there were any similar unsolved murders over in Mount Vernon.

As of at least 2018, Mount Vernon has a population of 67,593. By comparison, Albany—the state capital—has a population of 97,279 and Buffalo (which has one of the highest crime rates in the entire United States) has a population of 255,244. So as you can see, it isn’t exactly massive, though 67.5k isn’t small either. It isn’t a place where everyone knows everyone. It is definitely a city, just not one where you’re going to blend into a concrete prison like, say, New York City (where 8,000,000+ live).

Anyways, my point is: with a population of 67.5k, Mount Vernon doesn’t appear to be a massive crime-ridden place. At least, not from what I’ve seen. According to City Data, the 2018 crime rate was 1.2 times lower than the U.S. average. However, it was higher than 72.3% of U.S. cities. I don’t know the specific crimes mind you, but it’s likely that this includes robbery, assault, and rape.

So while there is definitely crime, it would appear that, as of 2018, Mount Vernon isn’t exactly competing with the aforementioned cesspool that is Buffalo for “worst place to live”. In spite of that, I still wanted to see if there was any information in the way of unsolved murders and as luck would have it, I managed to find one article that mentioned something. It was from a website called lohud and was posted December 15, 2013. In the article, it’s mentioned that Mount Vernon lacks a cold case department (more on that when I get to my own personal take) and that the Mount Vernon Jane Doe was one of 53 unsolved murders.

What exactly the other 52 murders are, I don’t know. I also can’t find out if any have been solved in the near seven years since the article was posted and how many more have gone unsolved. However, it’s possible that this theory originates from what is now an outdated theory on the part of detectives.

After the death of the Jane Doe in question, there were three subsequent murders of women from Yonkers. In 1989, Maria Ramos was murdered, followed by Tawanda Hodges in 1991 and Kimberly Moore in 1996. Like the Jane Doe, these three women had been posed by their killer.

This theory was proven to be incorrect though as a man by the name of Francisco Acevedo was arrested in April of 2010 for the murders of those three women. He was identified as the murderer thanks to DNA evidence and, when his DNA was tested with some that had apparently been found at the scene of the Jane Doe’s murder (yeah, color me surprised, but I’ve never found out where or how they discovered DNA), it didn’t match his. Not helping matters was it was later learned that he had been in custody over in Connecticut when the Jane Doe was killed.

That still doesn’t quite rule out that this was the work of a serial killer though. However, given the lack of information in the way of other murders that match this murder, I can’t exactly convey what evidence there is to back this theory up. As far as I can see, it’s simply something that’s put forward and then left there to build itself. So make of it what you will; there are unsolved murders in Mount Vernon, but there are plenty of unsolved murders across North America. That doesn’t mean there’s one person committing them all.

2. It was a lone murder

The second and final theory is that it was a murder committed by someone who never killed again. Exactly why this person murdered the Mount Vernon Jane Doe is up for debate. It’s possible that it was out of a fit of rage (it was Valentine’s Day, so it could have been a scorned lover), it could have been a spur-of-the-moment act of violence, or it could have been a drug deal gone wrong. Whatever the case may be, it seems that people are as mystified as I am when it comes to figuring out why exactly this woman was murdered.

My Take

I genuinely don’t know why this woman was murdered. The date is, in my eyes, a coincidence. I’m seriously doubtful this was something that was something related to two lovers or perhaps a wrathful ex targeting his lost love. If anything, I think it might have been a drug deal that went wrong and the killer forced her to eat cocaine—perhaps because he refused to pay him (or her) for some. At the same time, I won’t rule out a sick, twisted individual who targeted a woman because he or she was angry for whatever reason.

Now, in the way of the serial killer theory, I seriously doubt this was the work of one. Given the lack of information, I’m almost certain that people have kept that theory going based on hearsay; people parroting what they see on big name sources. While I’m definitely guilty of being a parrot, nothing about this case screams “serial killer”. Without any other murders that look to have similar traits to this one, I doubt this was the work of one. If it was, then it would appear that nobody has ever bothered to talk about them.

Now, yes, as I said earlier: Mount Vernon does lack a cold case department. However, I find it odd that this one case would get recognition, but no other cases would. If this case had been tied to a few others, those other cases would have been connected to this one to create the, say, Mount Vernon Serial Killer. I don’t think there’s anything here to properly pin this on a serial killer. Rather, I think it was done by someone who was seriously angry at this woman and afterwards, they either went on living their life or they were arrested on an unrelated charge. Or heck, maybe they were arrested for an unrelated murder and never confessed to this one.

Whatever the case may be, that’s my own personal theory on this case.


If you have any information regarding this case, you can contact the FBI at or contact the Mount Vernon Police Department at 914-665-2510 or 915-665-2573.

Until tomorrow, stay safe and stay healthy.

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