Detectives Get Court Order to Post Facebook Page of Dead Girl

Detectives in Fond du Lac, Wis., have been unable to identify body.

BySarah Netter
August 20, 2009, 12:00 PM

Aug. 20, 2009— -- Her body was found by deer hunters hidden in the woods in a rural part of Wisconsin.

Nearly one year later, detectives in Fond du Lac, Wis., still have no idea who she is or how she got there. So they've turned to Facebook, even going as far as getting a court order forcing the social networking site to allow a page for the dead girl after previous attempts to post an information page were found to violate the site's policy.

"Our problem is getting this out because if she's not from our local viewing area, people who are missing somebody aren't going to see what we have," Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Detective Charles Sosinski told

They have posted not only a composite photo of the woman created by forensic artists, but an exact replica of the clothing she was wearing. The police Web site shows the clothing posed on a mannequin in several positions.

She is known only as the Fond du Lac "Jane Doe." The police believe she may be Caucasian, but an anthropologist from the University of Wisconsin at Madison told police she could be of Hispanic, Asian or Native American descent.

She's believed to be about 5'1", give or take three inches, and between 15 and 21 years old. Her weight was estimated at 110 to 135 pounds. The anthropologist said an exam showed that she may have been knock-kneed or pigeon toed.

Police aren't disclosing how Jane Doe died, but Soskinski said it was a homicide and that the body had been in the woods since at least September 2008.

Soskinski said the department initially had trouble with its Facebook endeavor. After getting the composite photo in early June, detectives set up profiles for Jane Doe on both Facebook and MySpace, but the former page kept getting taken down.

Soskinski said they had exhausted all traditional methods of identification including checking missing persons reports and handing out photographs. Police determined the manufacturers of the clothing found at the scene and the company sent copies to them for use on the mannequin, he said.

Eventually obtaining the court order July 2 from a Fond du Lac circuit court judge, they were contacted by a Facebook attorney earlier this month who helped set up a page that wouldn't be removed.

Jane Doe's new Facebook page, up since Monday, has nearly 70 fans so far and includes photos and information about the case.

Barry Schnitt, Facebook's director of policy communications, told that the problem wasn't with the content posted by the Sheriff's Office, but that the fact that they wanted to create a profile, something the site reserves for identified -- and living -- individuals.

Finding Fond du Lac's Jane Doe

Their profile, he said, was automatically getting booted from the site because the department was using the phrase "Jane Doe" which triggered Facebook's filters.

Facebook requires all users be identified by their true names as a way of ensuring accountability and avoiding anonymous disrespect that occurs so frequently on other sites.

"We point to it ... as one of the things that has differentiated Facebook," he said.

"Our point the whole time," Schnitt said of the Fond du Lac Jane Doe, "was 'You can do this, just not a profile.'"

Schnitt said Facebook ended up creating the Fond du Lac Jane Doe page for the Sheriff's Office and were happy to do so, "but we would point to some others as best practices."

He pointed out that most police entities create pages for their departments and then disseminate news to department "fans."

So far, Sosinski said, Jane Doe's page hasn't generated any leads, but detectives are hoping that will change as more people see it.

"Now the next part is getting people to go look at it," he said, "share it with their friends."

CLICK HERE to view the Fond du Lac Jane Doe page on Facebook.

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