“Baby Doe” is the name used by police to refer to the deceased little girl — estimated to be about 4-years-old — who washed up on a Boston, Massachusetts, area beach on June 23, her body stuffed inside a trash bag and wrapped in a zebra-striped blanket. But new scientific analysis of microscopic evidence may have led to the first break in the case as investigators struggle to identify the child.
The girl’s body was discovered by a pedestrian walking a dog on Deer Island in Winthrop, Massachusetts, near Boston’s Logan airport. The deceased girl was wearing the black-and-white polka-dot pajama pants pictured above.
A forensic computer reconstruction of what the girl may have looked like in life, also seen above, was widely circulated on social media — where it was seen by an estimated 40 million people — and posted on outdoor billboards, as well as published in hundreds of media outlets.
— Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) July 20, 2015
But despite thousands of tips, Massachusetts State Police say that no one has yet provided solid information that may give a clue to who the child might be.
Science, however, has now helped police to determine where she came from. And that evidence came from an unexpected source.
While the DNA of Baby Doe has been analyzed — as has her mitochondrial DNA, which would indicate her ancestry — investigators have found their first clue in the pollen found on her body, just as pollen, the substance best known for causing sneezing and watery eyes in human beings, covers most everyone.
While investigators have been searching all over the United States and even as far as Brazil for missing children who might be Baby Doe, analysis of the pollen found on her body and garments shows that the child came from somewhere in the local Boston area.
Additionally, scientific investigators at a lab in Houston, Texas, found traces of soot mixed with the pollen, leading them to conclude that Baby Doe lived in a city or an immediate suburb, rather than in a rural or more sparsely populated area.
But while the findings represent a significant development in the Baby Doe case, investigators say the mystery is far from solved. Perhaps the biggest mystery of all is why the girl was thrown away like trash when medical examination of her remains showed no signs of trauma or abuse, and toxicology tests showed no evidence that the girl was poisoned or severely ill.
“She was walking, breathing, talking within a community very shortly before she was found,” Carol Schweitzer, a forensic analyst with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, told the New York Times. “The fact that she is still unidentified is unique. We don’t have many cases like this in a year.”
While unidentified dead bodies are not unusual, police say most are identified in a relatively short period of time. But Massachusetts investigators still need the public’s help in identifying Baby Doe. Tips can be left with the Massachusetts State Police by calling (508) 820-2121.
[Images: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Massachusetts State Police]