UNSOLVED: Woman found in Brunswick Co. in 1979 remains unidentified

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The remains of a woman found in Brunswick County in 1979 are still unidentified.

Jane Doe 1979 was found on December 8, 1979 in some woods near what is now the intersection of Hooper Road and Mount Misery Road.

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“She was found by hunters actually the sons of hunters,” Mary Doncourt said. “The boy who actually found her was only 13.”

Mary Doncourt, a civilian investigative specialist with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, said the coroner believed the woman was about 20 years old at the time.

“He believed she’d been dead for several weeks at the time she was found,” Doncourt said.



Doncourt said they were never able to determine her cause of death, but in 2015, new technology helped detectives draw sketches.

“When I saw the NCMEC photo, they e-mailed it to me and I opened it up and it literally stopped me cold,” Doncourt said.

After more than 30 years, Jane Doe 1979 now had a face.

“I sat there for a minute and her eyes were staring out at me and I looked at her and all I could think of was, ‘Hello Jane,'” Doncourt said.

It was not long after that Doncourt said they discovered something else.

“We found out that Jane actually could have been older,” Doncourt said. “We found these two really amazing forensic anthropologists at NC State, Dr. Ann Ross and Dr. Chelsey Juarez. Dr. Ross does osteological studies. What she found is that Jane was probably between 42 and 55.”

Doncourt said that also led to new sketches. 

“When I saw Mike’s, my first reaction was to start looking for the similarities, what we had and what we didn’t have,” Doncourt said.

Then, another new sketch was made by laying the first two on top of each other.

“It was just kind of a wow moment because it was obvious that the artist had seen the same woman just at different stages of her life,” Doncourt said.

Then, Juarez did an isotopic study on the woman’s diet revealing something even more interesting about the woman who still did not have an identity.

“She told us basically Jane was not from North Carolina, had not lived here long enough to have picked up the isotopes, so we don’t know if she had been here a day a week,” Doncourt said.

Where could she have been from?

“There are several states where these isotopes exist and where she may have lived and that includes the mid West, Wisconsin, Michigan, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, California,” Doncourt said.

Doncourt said they really do not know much about her, but they do have this.

“On her left wrist, was a snoopy watch,” Doncourt said. “That is the only thing that was kind of abnormally to who she was and what was going on.”

After 40 years and putting her pictures and information on national missing persons databases, they still do not have anything about who she was.

“We’ve heard nothing,” Doncourt said. “We have no matches.”

It is a case that has become a big part of Doncourt’s life and mission.

“Jane was a real person,” Doncourt said. “She lived. She breathed. She talked. She walked. She laughed. She loved.”

Doncourt said she is not going to stop looking for jane’s real name.

“Her end should not be without a name in the medical examiner’s office for eternity,” Doncourt said. “She should have a name. She should have a tombstone.”

Doncourt said Jane Doe 1979 does not deserve to spend another 40 years listed as unsolved.

“At the very least she should have her name,” Doncourt said. “You just shouldn’t die without your name. She deserves that.”

If you have any information, please contact the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.