EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Police spent nearly 50 years trying to identify a Jane Doe, who was found bound, gagged and wrapped in a tarp in a drainage ditch along Frontage Road on Aug. 16, 1975.
It wasn’t until recently investigators were able to identify Jane Doe as 18-year-old Patricia Newsom. Police are now asking to speak with anyone who may have known her.
For almost five decades, detectives scoured over details on the case but the discovery of Patricia’s identity revealed investigators were on the right track decades ago.
“We realized just how close detectives were to solving the case back then,” East Haven Police Captain Joseph Murgo said. “A lot of the information that came in back then when the case was hot was relevant had they known the identity of Jane Doe.”
Now that she has her name back, police want more answers. The biggest question, who killed her?
While identifying her has given detectives fresh momentum, they say now they need the public’s help to move forward.
Police say that their investigation is leading them up the east coast, and are asking anyone in the areas of Philadelphia, Vermont, New Jersey, New York, and Maine, for any information they may have, or if they crossed paths with Newsom in the 70s.
“This community and several generations of investigators never gave up on this case,” Murgo said.
Police say their goal is to be able to present the likely events that led to Newsom’s death to her family, who have never stopped seeking justice for her.
“With the task of identifying Patricia Newsom behind us, we are now able to focus on the circumstances leading up to her death,” East Haven police said via Facebook.
But 48 years is a long time and Captain Murgo says key suspects have died, one in recent months.
Murgo says they have taken DNA analysis as far as they could; her killer’s DNA was not found.
“That’s not going to stop us,” Murgo said.
Forensic science experts say there are a lot of challenges with this case, including the prior lack of technology and the lapse in time.
“They weren’t doing DNA testing at all,” said Bridget Brosnahan, UNH Forensic Science lecturer. “If you don’t have physical evidence you tend to meet dead ends as far as who is available after all these years to talk to, to find, that can add additional information.”
Murgo said Patricia went to an unknown boarding school in Sullivan County New York. She ran away with a friend with a goal of hitch hiking to Maine, but don’t know if Patricia or her friend ever made it there.
“She could have crossed paths with anybody from here to there, that includes Connecticut, New York,”Murgo said. “Be able to uncover that information now is our top priority and we think we will be able to do that.”
Police are hoping to learn more about the friend Patricia ran away with, and if she could be another Jane Doe.
Anyone with any information is asked to call the East Haven Police Department at 203-468-3820.