Illinois coroner looks for identity of homicide victim possibly from Selma

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An artist-rendered image of how Jane Seneca Doe may have appeared in life. Image courtesy of volunteer artist Carl Koppelman.
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An Illinois coroner’s office has reopened a cold case on an unidentified homicide victim whose family is likely located in Selma or Dallas County.

The Grundy County Coroner’s Office is looking for information about the identity of an African-American female whose body was found in a ditch on Oct. 2, 1976, alongside U.S. Route 6 near Holderman Hill, in unincorporated Seneca, Ill.

The woman was estimated to be between 15 and 27 years of age. She had been shot in the head and discarded in this rural area. After being unidentified for 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 2018 to use modern-day Forensic Science and DNA techniques to find her identity.

Since May 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, according to a press release.

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 release said.

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.

-Her parents may have come from Selma, Alabama. One set of grandparents were from Selma, Alabama.

-One of her grandparent’s was likely named Calhoun. One great-grandparent may have been named Harris.

-Other possible areas her relatives reside: Dallas Co. or Wilcox Co., Alabama.

-At least one branch of the family moved to Ohio.

-She may have siblings who were unaware of her existence.

Anyone with any information, which may lead to the identity of Jane Seneca Doe, is urged to contact Deputy Chief Coroner Brandon Johnson of the Grundy County Coroner’s Office at 815-941-3359 or e-mail: bjohnson@grundyco.org