Publicker Jane Doe Has Been Identified After 33 Years

Found in an underground pump house, she’s the latest in a long list to get the genealogy treatment.

Josie Klakström
3 min readMar 10, 2021


The skeletal remains of a woman were discovered by a dog walker on the 24th of January 1988. She was found at the derelict Publicker distillery in Bensalem which had been closed since the ’70s, and the property had since become an area to dump rubbish and unwanted and stolen vehicles.

Publicker Jane Doe bust via NCMEC

The pump house Jane Doe was found in was used to distil spirits and was now mostly empty, apart from eight inches of water and oil at the bottom of the well. Getting her body out safely was difficult.

At her autopsy, the coroner put her age at between 16 and 30 years old. She was white, between 5 feet and 5 feet 3 inches with brown hair. She was wearing designer jeans and a purple camisole top, with black leather platform shoes and a bodysuit. She was also around six months pregnant.

Her case was widely publicised, and several reconstructions of her face were created, including one by Frank Bender, who worked on the America’s Unknown Child’s case and John List’s manhunt. Missing persons reports and runaways were cross-checked but none of them matched with Publicker Jane Doe.

Flyers bearing Bender’s facial reconstruction were distributed around Bucks County, Pennsylvania, as were the dental records made at her autopsy. The 50 women missing at the time were all excluded from the investigation, and the case quickly went cold.

In 2007, Jane Doe’s DNA was tested but no results were matched to her. Several years later, a 3D image was created by St Mary’s Hospital in Bensalem using Jane Doe’s skull, and was added to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website. A few years later, the bones of her unborn child were also tested, but no results came from the DNA testing nor the new image.

Two months ago, Jane Doe’s DNA was tested using genealogy techniques at Bode Technology, a privately funded laboratory in Virginia. The extract was then sent to Othram Inc. to further analyse the sample, where they created a profile for Jane Doe.



Josie Klakström

Josie is a freelance journo who writes about writing, true crime, culture and marketing.