Doe Network Searches for Missing Persons

"It happens when all the parameters fit," he said. "The date the body was found coupled with the date when the person went missing. Scars mark, tattoos, geographical things like how close the body was to where the person went missing."

‘Tent Girl’

Todd Matthews, a 31-year old quality control auditor, serves as the Doe Network's media director. Matthews spends most of his free time focusing on a case in his home state of Tennessee.

Matthews said his first interest in identifying John and Jane Does began in 1987, when his father-in-law told him about his discovery of a woman who had been only known as "Tent Girl." She was discovered in a Kentucky field on May 17, 1968.

Matthews' interest in the case never died, and when he came across the words "Lexington, 1967, missing" during an Internet search in 1998, it led him to the description of a young girl named Barbara, last seen in the Lexington, Ky., area decades earlier.

The dead girl's sister had posted the message Matthews discovered and DNA tests in April of 1998 confirmed that "Tent Girl" was her 10-year-old missing sister, Barbara Ann Hackman-Taylor.

Matthews says his main goal today is to get the word out about the John and Jane Does they're searching for.

"The way we go from here is we keep publicizing," Matthews said. "We submit to law enforcement, try to raise awareness. That cross-pollinates. Communications is more important in a cold case like this. The media is often more important than law enforcement."

While identifying Jane and John Does can be satisfying on many levels, members of the Doe Network say the experience can also be bittersweet

"You're excited and you're happy that you've gotten to solve that case and you got closure for people," Gonzalez said. "And you're sad for their families that, you know, how every little the hope that they've lived with for all those years, that that person was still alive is now gone."

Gonzalez said she and the other members spend hours obsessing over the missing person cases of strangers may be unusual to some, but they say it is for a good cause.

"Somewhere there is a family, or friends, or somebody who is looking for this person and would really like to know what's happened to them," Gonzalez said.

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