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Monday, August 1, 2011

Vigil held for 'Jane Doe'

Vigil held for 'Jane Doe'

Twenty years after a young woman's decomposed body was discovered along I-270 at the Baker Valley Road overpass, a small group gathered Sunday to remember her.

In the Worthington Farm National Park parking lot, a Maryland State Police officer and two Maryland Missing Persons Network personnel lit candles and said a silent prayer for the "Jane Doe" on the anniversary of her discovery.

"To this day -- and we're celebrating 20 years -- we have no idea who she is," Maryland State Police Sgt. Tina Becker said.

The Cold Case Unit officer said that the chance of determining what happened to the Jane Doe is zero to none; the girl, estimated to be in her late teens or early 20s at the time of her death, had no identification.

Maryland Missing Persons Network founder Kylen Johnson organized Sunday evening's vigil to make sure the victim is remembered.

"It is important that she is not forgotten," Becker said.

Johnson, Becker and Network member Suzanne McGraw participated Sunday night, holding lit candles together in a circle and saying a few words about the case.

"I ask for guidance to point me in the right direction, bring me helpful information," Becker said.

McGraw says a prayer for the family, she said.

The group wants to continue to raise awareness of the Jane Doe case and other missing persons and unidentified murder victims.

"We are here tonight to celebrate Jane," Becker said. "Unfortunately, there are lots of people missing."

Local attention to Sunday's event and similar vigils is helpful, Johnson said, because there are families who may not know what to do or who to contact when a loved one goes missing., the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, is a database open and researchable to the public, Becker said, which can cross-reference unidentified and missing people to create potential matches.

Becker said the law enforcement's biggest struggle is pairing an unidentified person with those listed as missing.

"We talk to people from all over the country, trying to (make a) match," she said. "It is a process of elimination."

The state missing persons network database holds about 350 missing Marylanders, including more than 200 unidentified victims, Johnson said.

"It is an unknown epidemic," Becker said of the number of people who go missing every day.

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