The identity of a woman found without her head and hands in a grisly murder has finally been solved.
More than 42 years ago, troopers with the New York State Police responded to a travel trunk found near a dumpster at the Hudson View apartment complex in Fishkill, New York — about 70 miles north of Manhattan. Little could be ascertained about the body of the woman inside, who became known as “Dutchess County Jane Doe,” because her head and hands were never found.
Earlier this year, Othram Inc., a Texas-based company specializing in forensic-grade genome sequencing, was asked by the FBI to take a look at the Jane Doe’s DNA. Experts created a DNA profile, which led federal and state investigators down a genealogical line of inquiry.
On May. 26, state police determined that the Duchess County Jane Doe was Anne L. Papalardo-Blake, a 44-year-old New York City woman reported missing to the NYPD on March 18, 1980.
Papalardo-Blake worked as a receptionist at the Vidal Sassoon salon on 5th Avenue in Manhattan and was last seen leaving her place of employment at around 6:00 p.m.
On March 20, 1980 — two days after Paparlardo-Blake’s disappearance — a then-unidentified body was found in that trunk in Fishkill. Officials with the Dutchess County Medical Examiner’s office theorized the Jane Doe was in her mid-twenties, weighed approximately 135 pounds and stood five feet, six inches tall. They also determined the victim’s bra and shoe size.
Much of the forensic investigation focused on the trunk in which the woman was found, which was believed to have been placed near the dumpster between noon and 10:00 p.m. on March 18, the same day Papalardo-Blake disappeared, according to NamUs. The case was green with black trim and brass fittings; stickers on the trunk’s exterior indicated that whomever owned it had traveled from New York City to France in 1958 and returned in 1960.
The trunk’s owner had been a woman named June Leaf, though it was unclear what relationship — if any — she might have had with Papalardo-Blake.
Jane Doe’s information was entered into NamUs in 2011, a hub for missing, unidentified and unclaimed persons.
“The person or persons responsible for Anne’s death went through great lengths to ensure she would not be identified,” Othram Chief Development Officer Kristen Mittelman told Oxygen.com. “But in the end, she was identified through an amazing collaboration between the NYSP, the FBI, and also the NamUs program, which funded Othram’s laboratory costs so our team could develop a DNA profile.”
Othram Inc. uses DNASolves to crowdfund and collect volunteered DNA to use the latest scientific methods, including genetic genealogy, to “solve unsolvable cases.”
So far, there have been no details released about a possible suspect in the case. Investigators continue to “piece together the events” leading to Papalardo-Blake’s homicide and ask anyone with information to contact the New York State Police at 1-845-677-7300 with reference number 3020974.