The notion that a deceased person can remain unidentified is particularly poignant. We find it difficult to imagine that nobody out there is looking for said person. Undoubtedly, some of these people have been reported missing but remain unidentified because investigators do not have enough clues or evidence to match the body to the missing person. If somebody dies in a different state than where they were reported missing, it’s an extremely difficult task to link the cases. However, thousands of these missing people are never reported missing particularly if they are on the margins of society. They literally slip through the cracks into obscurity, gone forever.
Investigators know every single detail about how and why she met her demise yet they still have no idea who she was. Thus, she became “Shotgun Jane.”
On the 1st of June, 1987, two men picked up a female hitchhiker at a truck stop or a rest stop in Bulls Gap, Tennessee. The location of where she was picked up varies depending on which man is telling the story. The two men drove her to their home on Jim Sterchi Road that they shared and after a few bottles of liquid courage, they decided they would break into a nearby home. The home was owned by a 23-year-old woman who had recently been robbed.
They attempted to trick the homeowner into opening the door by staging a fight right there on the porch. When the homeowner refused to open the door, the hitchhiker started to kick the front door. The resident called the police. When they again refused to open the door, the hitchhiker started attempting to pry open the screen door. Unsurprisingly, the homeowner became terrified and retrieved her 12-gauge shotgun. As the hitchhiker attempted to open the screen door, she was shot in the side of the head and died on the porch.
“She paid dearly for her crime, right there on the spot,” said David Davenport, head of KCSO/Knoxville Police Department Cold Case Squad.1
The two men were soon apprehended for the attempted break in, however when questioned, they contended they had no idea who the hitchhiker was. The only clue they could offer was that “Tina” and “Illinois” came up in conversation. However, they didn’t know the context of the conversation. They didn’t know if she was a Tina from Illinois or was going to Illinois to visit a Tina.2 She carried no form of ID. In fact, she didn’t even carry a wallet.
She was estimated to be anywhere between twenty and thirty years old, weighing around 120 pounds. She stood at 5 feet five inches and had brown hair and brown eyes. On her upper left arm, she had an amateurish tattoo of the letters “B.H.” She was missing one of her lower front teeth and was wearing a silver bracelet on her left wrist.
She was clad in an aqua-coloured Miami Dolphins t-shirt with the number 32 embellished on the back, blue pants, and white tennis shoes.3
An autopsy discovered a scar consistent with a C-section or some form of other pelvic surgery. She had a crushed vertebrae that most likely caused back pain; healed fractures of the clavicle and the tibia bones with the left tibia behind secured with a metal pine. These injuries were consistent with a vehicle collision at some point in her life. Her blood alcohol level was found to be 0.13%.
Her teeth were examined by scientists at the Smithsonian Institution. They concluded that she had most likely lived in the southeast. Information packets which included the details surrounding her death and facial likeness was sent to law enforcement agencies, medical facilities and news outlets. Her fingerprints were run through several databases yet no match could be made.
Despite numerous news stories as well as a wide circulation of her facial likeness, the true identity of “Shotgun Jane” remains unknown.
I hope the lady who pulled the trigger wasn’t charged with a crime.