Jane Doe Buried After Three Year Probe Hits Dead End

PHOTO: A family of strangers: Wisconsin community memorializes, buries unidentified crime victimPlayNational Center for Missing & Exploited Children/AP Photo
WATCH Jane Doe Buried After Case Hits Dead End

After three years searching for the identity of a woman found frozen and partially submerged in an icy creek, Wisconsin investigators held a memorial service for her unclaimed body.

On a cold, windy day earlier this week in Waupun, Wisc., the woman known only as "Jane Doe" was laid to rest in a wooden coffin at the Cattaraugus Cemetery.

The small ceremony, attended by detectives, staff from the medical examiner's office, and curious citizens, brought some closure to a case that haunts the community.

The partially decomposed body of the woman, believed to be 5-feet-1 and between 15 to 21 years old, was discovered by deer hunters in a remote area about halfway between Fond du Lac and Milwaukee on Nov. 23, 2008.

Fond du Lac County Lt. Cameron McGee, who is also a hunter, told ABCNews.com he was sitting in his deer stand when he got the call. Upon arriving at the rural, wooded area he thought, "This doesn't look good."

"We were able to determine it's a female. It certainly had all the appearances of a homicide," he said. "You could just tell she was dumped."

The medical examiner's office believes the woman had most likely died three months prior, in August. She was found wearing Angels brand jeans and a sleeveless black top accented with hot pink.

"We traced back the clothing, where it was manufactured from and sold," said McGee. "It was coming out of something like a dollar store, which they've got all over the place."

A sketch artist collaborated with a forensic anthropologist to create a composite of the woman, who could have been Caucasian, but also may be of Hispanic, Asian or Native American descent.

"I have to believe there's probably a reasonable likeness, but unfortunately we won't know that until we identify her," said McGee.

The county paid for her casket, McGee said, and local groups donated flowers.

Charles Sosinski, 57, a detective who retired last year after working with Fond du Lac County Sheriff's office for 37 years, attended Monday's funeral. He had worked on the case from the very beginning.

"I guess the thing that's most troubling in this case is that there's more than likely a family out there who doesn't know where their loved one is," he said. "She's still a human being. She's important and someone's missing her … I have children too. If that was my child … it's important. There's some emotion that goes into it."

Sosinski said the woman probably isn't from Wisconsin "because we've had considerable coverage in our state."

Even after following up on more than 200 leads, no family member has come forward to claim the body. But detectives hope somebody will now.

"We're looking for someone who had a crisis of conscience," said McGee, who described the funeral as "frustrating."

"We buried someone's daughter," he said. "And that sucks. It's bad to not know who that person is."

Fond du Lac County Sheriff Mylan Fink asked his department's head chaplain, Don Deike, to give the eulogy, no easy task when the woman being buried is unknown.

"It was more challenging than I had originally thought," Fink said. "But what we decided to do was speak to those who were there in respect to honoring human life."

During the eight minute speech, Deike told the attendees about the importance of preparing for the moment "when we ourselves meet our maker."

"We should really take the opportunity to do kindness unto others," he said.

Afterward, some of the attendees approached him, including one man who said he had been a member of the hunting party that had discovered the body.

"He basically came out of respect for the Jane Doe," Deike said.

But even though Jane Doe has been buried, the case hasn't.

"The case does not get laid to rest ever," said McGee. "We will always be looking at it, we will always be following up on leads."

For Sosinski, one of the two retired detectives who attended the eulogy, the funeral didn't offer a resolution, but somehow, it helped.

"Had I not gone I think that would have bothered me," said Sosinski. "Trying to explain that or put it into words why you need to be there is difficult. But it was important. I think it was the right thing to do for me."