Cold Cases

Unidentified Black Female - October 2, 1976 - Update as of 01/14/2020UP17621-Grundy-IL-Oct-76-BlkFem-001Grundy County Coroner’s Office
John W. Callahan, Coroner
1320 Union St.
Morris, IL 60450
Phone – 815-942-3792
Fax – 815-941-3355

The Grundy County Coroner’s Office is releasing an update into the cold case investigation of an unidentified homicide victim from 1976.

On October 2, 1976, the body of an African-American-Female, who was estimated to be between fifteen and twenty-seven years of age, was discovered in a ditch, alongside U.S. Route 6 near Holderman Hill, in unincorporated Seneca, Illinois. The victim had been shot in the head and discarded in this rural area. After being unidentified for approximately a month, the victim was buried without her name, in an unmarked grave at the Braceville-Gardner Cemetery in Braceville, Illinois, where she remained, until investigators from the Coroner’s Office exhumed her remains in December of 2018, to utilize modern-day Forensic Science and DNA techniques.

Since May of 2019, the Grundy County Coroner’s Office has been working closely with the DNA Doe Project, an organization that utilizes genetic genealogy to assist in identifying the unidentified.

Throughout the course of months of efforts, the DNA Doe Project has successfully located a close match to Jane Seneca Doe.
Due to an extensive family tree, the Grundy County Coroner’s Office and the DNA Doe Project are requesting the public’s assistance in helping to finally identify Jane Seneca Doe.

The following is the updated information known at this time:

  • Jane Seneca Doe was likely born between 1948 and 1960 and would have been missing by October 1976.
  • One of her parent’s last name was likely CALHOUN, and this parent was initially born in Selma, Alabama. This parent may have moved to Cincinnati, Ohio at some point in his/ her life.
  • Her other parent has ancestral ties to Polk County, Georgia; Lawrence County, Alabama; and/ or Jefferson County, Alabama. Ancestral surnames of interest for her other parent are possibly ENSLEY or BYNUM (This does not necessarily mean that this second parent had one of these surnames).
  •  Jane Seneca Doe may have been born in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. There is a possibility that she may have been adopted or not raised by her biological family.
  • You can help by uploading your DNA to GEDmatch or Family Tree DNA if you are from these geographic areas and/ or have these surnames in your family tree.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Deputy Chief Brandon Johnson at 815-941-3359 or e-mail: bjohnson@grundycountyil.gov

An artist-rendered-image of how Jane Seneca Doe may have appeared in life. Image courtesy of volunteer artist, Carl Koppelman.

Unidentified Black Female - October 2, 1976
NCMEC
Click here to listen to the ‘Vanished Podcast’ regarding this case.
UP17621-Grundy-IL-Oct-76-BlkFem-001
Courtesy of Carl Koppelman

Grundy County Coroner’s Office
John W. Callahan, Coroner
1320 Union St.
Morris, IL  60450
Phone – 815-942-3792
Fax – 815-941-3355

Grundy County Coroner John W. Callahan is releasing details regarding a death investigation of a cold case of an unidentified female. The body was found on October 2, 1976 in a farm field in western Grundy County. Investigators from the Grundy County Sheriff’s Department and Illinois State Police in conjunction with the Coroner, worked the case for a period of time. After several weeks of not being able to make any identification, the body was buried under the authority of the Grundy County Coroner. Not only were there no identification leads, but also the fact that the death was ruled a Homicide from a gunshot wound to the head.

Coroner Callahan states that at the time in 1976, authorities exhausted all possibilities with the investigative tools of that time. Today, there is so much more in the way of DNA, advanced fingerprinting, facial sketch artists just to name a few that my office felt it was an opportune time to look further into the death. Coroner Callahan also states, “I’ve known about this unidentified female since I started in the Coroner’s office in 1994 and it has troubled me that someone’s loved one is buried here and was never identified.” Coroner Callahan states that he understands that this is a “long shot” in hopes of identification and even further of any hope of finding the killer. I do believe my office has put together a very solid case presentation with the help of evidence that was kept by the Grundy County Sheriff’s Department and assistance from the Illinois State Police Crime Lab, along with NamUs.

The following is a current news release, along with the sketch and two articles from 1976, when she was found:

Grundy County, Illinois-The Grundy County Coroner’s Office is seeking the public’s assistance in helping to identify a victim from a 1976 cold case. On October 2, 1976, the body of a Female was found in a ditch, located on the Western edge of rural Grundy County. The victim was described as a Female Black, between 18-23 years of age, with black hair, brown eyes, 5’7” and 150 lbs. With so much advancement in Forensic Science over the years, our office is taking a fresh look at this case. With the help of an illustrator, who was able to design this image to help depict how the victim may have looked at the time of her death. We understand that this is someone’s daughter and loved one. Please help us in bringing closure to her family after forty-two years. Anyone with information that can lead us to the identity of this female is asked to contact Deputy Coroner Brandon Johnson at the Grundy County Coroner’s Office at 815-942-3792 or bjohnson@grundycountyil.gov

The Coroner’s office is also working with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS) as well as The Doe Network: International Center For Unidentified & Missing Persons to help identify the victim.

A special thanks to NBC 5 investigates and Phil Rogers for featuring our cold case. You can view the segment by visiting the following link.