‘Jane Doe’ mystery lingers 23 years after Virginia suicide

Mysteries
Virginia cemetery

Editor’s note: Tonight we begin a series of reports on strange mysteries with connections to Christmas. Watch for more, concluding on Christmas Eve.


MYSTERY WIRE — A woman left behind few clues when she took her own life 23 years ago in Annendale, Virginia.

If fact, she didn’t even leave her name when she wrote this note: “Deceased by own hand … prefer no autopsy.” It was signed, “Jane Doe.”

The woman, found lying dead across a plastic sheet in Pleasant Valley Memorial Park on Dec. 18, 1996, died of asphyxiation. She had a plastic bag taped over her head. Beside her body:

  • A small, decorated Christmas tree
  • A portable cassette tape player and headphones
  • Two $50 bills to pay for her own cremation

Her death ritual included listening to the famous comedy routine, “The 2000 Year Old Man,” by Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner.

Her identity remains a mystery, as does her choice of locations. She was found in a place in the cemetery where infants are buried. The Christmas tree and the comedy routine add strange aspects to the the incident, as does the manner of the woman’s death.

For more details, listen to the Trace Evidence podcast below:

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