Ohio authorities exhume newborn’s body to ID through DNA


DEFIANCE, Ohio (WANE/AP) — It has been more than two decades since authorities found a newborn baby buried in a dirt pile in a Defiance County cemetery. Authorities have exhumed the baby’s remains in hopes that DNA comparisons will identify her.

The body was exhumed Tuesday at Riverview Memory Gardens where the the infant’s body was found inside a dry cleaning bag in 1994. An autopsy done on at the time showed no foul play.

“There was a medical clamp on the umbilical cord,” he said. “So we know the child was alive after birth.”

The community came together and gave her a proper burial. Her body is buried beneath a marble and bronze marker identifying her as Baby Jane Doe. This particular area of Riverview Memory Gardens is known as the garden of innocence, where only children are buried.

Defiance County Sheriff Doug Engel worked on the early investigation. He said the case went cold in 2003 after detectives followed hundreds of leads without success.

However, 23 years later, Engel said he has not given up on Baby Jane Doe. Engel and Defiance County Coroner William Reeves believe new DNA technology and help from the FBI will lead to her identity. The child’s DNA will be compared with samples collected for a national database since her death.

“What we try to get is long bones, like the femur and the humerus,” said Reeves. “We turned them over to the FBI. They can check for so many more aspects of the DNA that they can match to even further relatives out. Maybe that may help give us a clue to a relative that may have some answers.”

Engel hopes this will put an end to a decades old mystery. He hopes to find out the baby’s name so the child will have a proper grave marker.”

“We always hold out hope,” said Engel. “We’ve been hoping for 23 years. Now we have 23 years of data placed into these computer systems.”


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