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The Personas of a 1970 Jane Doe in Harlem Come Into Focus

A murdered drug dealer dressed as a man, had lovers of both genders and used several aliases, successfully concealing her identity even well past her death.

She was buried Nov. 7, 1970, in plot No. 537 of a potter’s field in Middletown, N.Y. In the cemetery’s record book, where her name should have been, someone wrote a single word.


The police had found her a few weeks earlier, dead in the woods. Her hands had been tied behind her back with a length of electrical cord. She had been shot, her body left unrecognizable by months of exposure to the elements. She carried no identification.

For more than 45 years, the woman’s body has lain in a grave marked only by a number on a metal plate.

Then, in late 2015, a breakthrough: The woman’s fingerprints, run through a new police database, were matched to those of a woman arrested several times in the 1960s in Harlem.


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