In March 1982, a young woman's body was discovered near 420 North Plankinton Avenue by an off duty Wauwatosa firefighter. The woman was floating between two metal barrels that were tied to a nearby pier in the Milwaukee River. She was described as an African American woman, with brown eyes and black hair that had featured a reddish tint. At the time of death, she was estimated to be between 15-25 years old. She might have been in the river for as long as three months before she was found.
Named "Milwaukee Jane Doe", the unidentified young woman stood about 5'3" and weighed 137 pounds. She had a vertical surgical scar midline on her lower stomach, a scar on her right ankle and a scar on her right forearm. It is suspected that the young woman might have also had an abdominal surgery in the past. There was evidence of extensive dental work including two extractions, a number of fillings and a partial bridge.
Milwaukee Jane Doe's death has been ruled as an accidental drowning. There is no evidence of foul play or trauma. Investigators have pursued all leads possible to identify the unknown young woman. In 2014 a forensic facial reconstruction was commissioned to illustrate what the woman may have looked like, prior to her discovery. In spite of the forensic sketch and the pursuit of leads, the identity of Milwaukee Jane Doe remains a mystery.
In 2022, with all leads exhausted, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office reached out to Othram with the goal of using advanced DNA testing to identify this woman or a close relative that might be able to identify her. Anyone that has information that could aid this investigation is encouraged to contact the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office 414-223-1200. Please refer to medical exam case number 1982-0533 or NamUs #UP7640. A DNASolves fund has been created to cover the cost of testing and research for this case.