Reveal: The mystery of Mountain Jane Doe

— By Reveal staff

In rural Kentucky, a cold case is reopened after 45 years, and investigators dig up an unidentified murder victim in an attempt to give her back her name. The exhumation leads to a series of unexpected revelations about who she was and why she might have been killed. (Image: Michael I Schiller/Reveal)

Her case speaks to the complexity – and importance – of opening cold cases and using DNA science to try to solve them. There currently are more than 10,000 unidentified men and women in the U.S.

In the summer of 1969, a young woman was found dead off a remote mountain trail in Harlan, Kentucky. She’d been stabbed multiple times. Her identity was a mystery, so locals referred to her as Mountain Jane Doe. Decades later, a woman from the area takes up the cause of identifying the murdered woman, and her quest for answers leads investigators to a hillside grave and a DNA lab, bringing some long-awaited answers.

But as one mystery is solved, another remains unanswered: Who killed her? Reveal producer Michael I Schiller introduces us to a daughter who never knew her mom and who’s now determined to find the person who killed her, even if it means confronting some dark family secrets.

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Reveal is a weekly radio program produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. For more, check out our website and subscribe to our podcast.

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