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East Haven detectives heat up cold case by digging for Jane Doe

Detectives are using ground-penetrating radar to locate her metal casket.

HAMDEN, Conn. — The south side of the State Street cemetery in Hamden is where East Haven detectives think their "Jane Doe" in a cold case dating back to the 1970s is located. But last week, they dug up the wrong body. So on Tuesday, they tried again with ground-penetrating radar.

“She was someone’s loved one. She was someone’s daughter. Someone’s sister. Somebody deserves some sense of closure here,” said Capt. Joseph Murgo of the East Haven Police Department.

The goal is to give "Jane" her real name.

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“We know that our victim had extensive orthodontic work. In 1976 that was pretty rare. We believe our victim had a rhinoplasty. She had a nose job,” explained Capt. Murgo.

For decades, a composite sketch has been the only identity of the cold case murder victim.

“They sent out dental records across the country and fingerprints across the country. Nobody ever came forward,” said Murgo.

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On August 16,1975, Jane was found murdered along Frontage Road in East Haven -- “Floating in a drainage ditch.”

Decades later, advancements in DNA evidence have detectives digging again. She is buried somewhere in Hamden’s overgrown and abandoned State Street Cemetery. But the records are not well kept.

“We are basically going off a hand drawn sketch,” said Murgo.

The hastily labeled grave map is hardly a help. But detectives do know Jane was buried in a metal casket. They think they are onto something.

“For sure,” said Murgo. “Especially with that ground penetrating radar unit we have.”

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Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is what Bob Perry is known for. He’s better known as Bob "The Bone Finder". An expert on cemetery and ground mapping technology, he’s been called by the Connecticut State Police to deploy GPR in the search for Jennifer Dulos.

“What that does is it measures soil disturbance. Ground is like rings on a tree. Layer upon layer upon layer,” explained Perry. “Those metal coffins stand out very very strongly versus a wooden casket.”

On this day the detectives, the radar unit, metal detector and shovels all came and went, leaving Jane in solemn silence somewhere six feet beneath, while somewhere in America a family or friend, “…must be wondering even 47 years later exactly what happened to their loved one,” said Capt. Murgo.

The cemetery fell into squalor because it’s just so old, with graves dating back to 1784. Everyone in the cemetery association has already died. But Capt. Murgo told FOX61 they won’t rest until Jane can.

Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at mcaron@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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