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Who is Jane Doe 52? Body remains unidentified after 3 years

On the afternoon of Sept. 10, 2010, a worker at a recycling yard in downtown Los Angeles made a grisly discovery: a severely decomposed body.

But who was the woman stuffed inside a large bag?

In the three years since, the search for the woman’s identity has led detectives to locate 10 other women who were previously reported missing, including a 51-year-old woman discovered hiding from a parole violation and a 60-year-old who had stopped taking her medication to treat bipolar disorder.

But as for Jane Doe No. 52, detectives have only small clues to go on.

She was wearing an inexpensive sterling silver ring with a blue alexandrite center stone surrounded by tiny gems of cubic zirconium.  

She had gone to a dentist shortly before her death and had a high-quality crown on a tooth in her lower right jaw.

She was estimated to be between 50 and 70 years old, and had suffered blunt force injures to her head, torso and extremities.

Detectives say they have exhausted every lead. They’ve interviewed numerous truck drivers, combed through missing persons reports and sent cadaver dogs on the trash route her body is believed to have traveled.

Detectives sent information on the woman’s dental work to the California Dental Assn. They hoped a dentist would recognize the rendering of her face and be able to identify the woman.

“In almost three years, no one has come looking for her,” said LAPD Det. Brian Putnam with LAPD’s Central Division.

He has tried to get the story on "America’s Most Wanted." When there’s a lull between cases, he’ll click through missing persons websites until he finds a woman who matches Jane Doe No. 52’s description.

At LAPD’s Central Division office, he looks through her case files – two thick three-ring binders – plus a binder solely devoted to tips and missing persons who could be her.

“When you don’t even know what the victim’s name is, it’s as cold as can be,” Putnam said.

Still, Putnam holds out hope.

He believes if he’s not making headway, it’s because there’s something he’s missing. 

“No one deserves to just be thrown in the garbage,” he said.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Putnam at (213) 972-1256. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

-- Nicole Santa Cruz

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