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Monday, December 13, 2021

Decemystery (2021) 13: Ina Jane Doe


I’m not going to lie, I have no idea how to do an introduction for this story. I’ve sat here trying out various things, but I always come up thinking it isn’t very attention grabbing. No, I think the only thing that would grab one’s attention is the reconstruction of the woman known as Ina Jane Doe. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t drawn to the story primarily because of said reconstruction, but I digress. Let’s just jump in, because this is a really delightful story. That’s sarcasm by the way.

The Story

Ina is located in Jefferson County, Illinois—which is in the south-central part of the state. It has a population of just under 2,300, which isn’t actually relevant, but I want to give you an idea of what kind of place we’re dealing with. It’s tiny, it’s secluded (from what I can tell), and it’s probably a lovely place to live if you want to be in a community where almost everyone knows everyone.

Anyways, let’s move on. At some point during January 27, 1993, a group of kids were wandering around a wooded area near Wayne Fitzgerald State Park. I imagine they were playing or just exploring—but that would all come to a stop when one—or some/most/all—of them found a head hanging in the bushes. What happened next is unclear, but one can presume there was screaming, crying, and a lot of panicking. One thing’s for certain though: they did go to the police, who arrived and proceeded to find out something rather grisly.

The woman’s body was missing.

While it’s not stated if her head had been removed cleanly or not, it’s believed that it had been thrown out from a vehicle and not placed there. As for the woman, her height and weight have never been determined, nor has any shot been taken in the dark to guess it. All that’s known is:

She had shoulder-length reddish-brown hair.

She was likely between the ages of 30 and 50, though it appears that most consider the former to be the most likely.

She might have been from the Chicago area—though this is strictly police speculation and I haven’t the faintest idea as to how they would’ve surmised this.

She suffered from something known as “Torticollis”, which is also known as “Wry Neck Syndrome”, which is why the reconstruction at the start of this write-up shows her head in an awkward position. That wasn’t how the modeler made her, that’s actually how she was. Now, I admit, I’m really not good at summarizing these things well, but it basically causes you to tilt your head in a certain way, and makes it hard to move your head. Detectives have speculated that she may have sustained some sort of injury that caused this, though a likely explanation is that she was in a serious car accident.

Moving on though… we can’t really go anywhere. This case is cold—really, really cold. There have been a few guesses as to who this woman was, but none have ever been confirmed. I’m also unaware of any attempts at taking a DNA sample to try and utilize genealogical testing to find a descendant of the woman. According to the Unidentified Wiki, there have been two women ruled out as the decadent: Theresa A. Wallace and Nadine Joyce Mendonca. The former disappeared from Urbana, Illinois, while the latter vanished from Fall River, Massachusetts.

Beyond that, I cannot find any information stating how they were ruled out. In fact, I can’t really find much of anything; everything I stated is all I know. So with that, I’d like to move onto the theories section since, well, it doesn’t appear there’s anything else to cover.


1. A lover killed her

According to one intrepid Redditor by the name of “LittleAtmosphere”, there was a rumor that went around that the Jane Doe had been murdered by an “estranged husband”. I cannot find a source for where this rumor originates from and as such, I feel obligated to just leave it at this because I don’t want to start speculating for the next 3,000 words. However, I will state that this same Redditor states that the supposed “fact” that her body was never found was, in fact, a rumor. So… yeah. Anywhoozle, moving on!

2. A serial killer did it

“LittleAtmosphere” put in their post that the Jane Doe might have been linked to a supposed string of murders that took place in Jefferson County at the time. Their source was an article from a website called “”. I was quite eager to check this out, but I was immediately given the bluest of blue balls when I learned that the link is dead. No archive of the page exists either.

However, my own detective skills actually paid off because I was able to find one little bit of evidence to back this up. It comes in the form of the Dardeen Family Murders, which took place just outside of Ina. On the eve of November 18, 1987, law enforcement was sent to the home (a mobile home to be exact) of the Dardeen family since the family patriarch—29-year-old Russell—hadn’t shown up. When they arrived though, they found a truly grisly site.

Inside, they found the corpses of Russell’s wife and son—Ruby and Peter. 2-year-old Peter (I cannot verify the age, but that’s the only age Wikipedia gives) had been beaten to death. Likewise, 30-year-old Ruby had been beaten to death. At the time, she was pregnant and, during the beating, she went into labor and gave birth. The killer[s] proceeded to then beat the newborn to death.

Police immediately suspected Russell to have been behind the triple homicide, but that theory was quickly proven false when they found his corpse the following day in a field. Unlike his family, he had been shot and his genitals were mutilated.

Officially, the case has never been solved, though there are some theories about who committed it. As is the norm with any brutal murder like this, there are claims that it was perpetrated by Satanists in a grisly sacrifice. Police pressed X to doubt really hard on this though and, for a while, the case remained cold.

That is, until the early 2000s, when a man by the name of Tommy Lynn Sells was arrested for the murder of 13-year-old Kaylene Harris. For this heinous crime, he was sentenced to death (such is the Texas way). Anyways, that’s kind of beside the point. You see, Tommy boy has, since his arrest, been suspected of having murdered at least 22 people across the entire United States, and has since been dubbed the “Cross-Country Killer” and the “Coast to Cast Killer”.

I bring up Tommy because, when looking at his Wikipedia page, I noticed the murder of 10-year-old Joel Kirkpatrick. Apparently, his mother was convicted of said murder, but later exonerated, and it’s now suspected that Tommy was the real killer. Why do I bring this up? Well, for starters, the murder took place on October 13, 1997. The second reason is that the crime took place in Lawrenceville, Illinois.

Lawrenceville is a meager 1 hour, 36 minutes from Ina. If we’re to believe Wikipedia’s section on what murders Tommy has been linked to, there’s a fairly sizable gap between the murder of an unnamed co-worker in 1989 (which occurred in Texas), and the killing of Joel Kirkpatrick. Also, it’s entirely possible that Tommy spent some time in Illinois in 1997. A fair number of serial killers like him are/were drifters, so it would not surprise me in the least if he decided to come through Illinois more than once.

This, however, is just me conveying my own personal theory, which I should’ve done in the “My Take” section. However, I was kind of proud of my detective skills here, so dang it: I wanted to boast. Alas, I digress. It is entirely possible that my Z-grade research will backfire in the comments section, but I wanted to put this forward. With that said out of the way now, let’s move onto my own personal take.

My Take

Despite the research I did above, I really don’t know what I believe. Yes, I do believe it’s possible this was the work of a serial killer, but I don’t know if it would’ve been Tommy or someone else. I think the idea of it being a husband/lover is more possible, but the fact that nobody has come forward to say that someone’s sister/cousin has been heard from, and their husband has been suspiciously absent is weird. This is only amplified by the fact of how small Ina’s population is now. It was likely quite a bit smaller in 1993.

That is, unless the woman truly was from Chicago. In that case, I can actually see it being a husband. It feels the most likely, especially since I cannot concretely place Tommy in Illinois at the exact time of when this crime took place. If I could, I would be more inclined to think it was him.

Though with that said, I find it incredibly distressing that this case isn’t more well-known. For such an (admittedly) unsettling reconstruction of the Jane Doe, I find it so bizarre that there’s almost nothing out there. There aren’t many Reddit posts on this case and as far as I can tell, there aren’t any videos from even small YouTube channels that have covered this story. Perhaps it’s just how the aforementioned reconstruction affected me, but I would really like to know who could’ve done this to an innocent person.

To me, decapitation implies that someone clearly had some sort of personal vendetta against the victim. However, if that’s the case, then what would they have done with the rest of the body? That seems off to me. If it was a serial killer, then the same question applies there. It feels like a low-grade version of the Cleveland Torso Murderer to me.

Everything about this just rubs me the wrong way the more I think (and type) about it. More questions arise and I feel like I missed something when researching it. Granted, that isn’t uncommon for me; as I’ve said before, I am not a good researcher and I am anything but a high-quality content creator (if you can even call me that). Though I feel I should’ve at least come up with something more than just “yeah, her head was found and then the trail went cold”. What I have now feels like something I would’ve written back in 2018 when I was just beginning to write about unsolved mysteries, not something now when I can at least say that I’m decent enough that people have linked my blog on 4chan.

To round things off now: I guess if I can ask Santa for anything this Christmas, it would be for some sort of answer[s] to this case. Is there seriously nothing out there about this case? Am I really just that freakin’ bad at research? Or is this all we’ve got to go on? Feh, I’m repeating myself at this point. Let’s just head over to the conclusion before I begin to go in circles like a dog chasing its tail.


My slight whining at the end of my personal little take, I have to admit that this was actually quite fun to write, especially since I got to do some semblance of actual detective work. While I still consider myself a really poor researcher, it’s always nice to feel good about myself. Of course, I’m certain that if I was to actually be judged based on that, I’d get slapped upside the head by any armchair sleuth worth their salt.

Ah, but I digress (once more). I’d personally love to know what your theory is on this case. Let me know in the comments and until tomorrow, stay happy, healthy, and amazing. :)

1 comment:

  1. Was not expecting that picture when I opened the blog today lmao. I always find myself wondering how these people stay unidentified for decades when their cases seem so well-known, but it happens all the time. A case that baffled me for a long time was Lyle Stevik. He killed himself right after 9/11 and his family didn’t even know until a few years ago. They just didn’t think he wanted to have contact with them anymore.