On October 26, 1997, a duck hunter was canoeing on the Ryan Slough near Eureka when he noticed an object that resembled a mannequin on the muddy bank. When he approached the object he realized that that it was the butchered remains of a woman that was missing a head, arms and legs. The hunter, who had a mobile phone, immediately contacted the Humboldt County Police.
When investigators arrived at the scene, they saw that the victim's torso had been sliced down the middle and almost completely disemboweled. Moreover, the woman's breasts had been cut off and there were approximately 30 stab wounds on her body. Because there were no fingers to fingerprint, head, tattoos or unusual features on the torso, investigators were unable to identify the woman.
The woman, whose remains were referred to as Jane Doe, was examined by the county coroner. The coroner determined that she was likely between the ages of 18 and 25, and had a dark complexion. It was believed that Jane Doe had been dead at least three or four days before she was discovered.
Almost three months after the autopsy, Jane Doe's arm and hand were found near a beach. However, the body parts had deteriorated so much that there was no way a fingerprint analysis could be conducted. Investigators realized that Jane Doe's identity might never be discovered.