Inside a cemetery, surrounded by slender Oak and Poplar trees, at the very edge of a steep, rutted trail which is called Red Dog Road, a woman was buried without a name. She had been stabbed to death and left naked in the woods near town, in 1969. The locals know her as “Mountain Jane Doe”.
The story of “Mountain Jane Doe” became a ghost story for many years, until her body was exumed and her DNA was used to find her true identity. Rusted evidence of a casket would appear, unknown if it was a hinge or a handle. It was clear that much of her casket had been devoured by earth. Evidence that her bones were soil stained as they emerged above the ground. Her skull had to be dislodged from the packed ground with a crowbar. Mud had moved in and around her skull, protecting it from collapse over the decades.
“Mountain Jane Doe’s” true identity is that of a missing woman from Letcher County, Kentucky. She went missing at the age of 21 from her home; her name: Blair Adams. Several years earlier, the Kentucky State Police had entered her information into a database, hoping that someone was indeed looking for this woman. A daughter in search of her mother finally gives “Mountain Jane Doe” a name after more than four decades.
Darla Jackson, a historian and author, teams up with Karen Stipes, the daughter of “Mountain Jane Doe”, to finally give this woman back her true identity. Karen had grown up without a picture or a grave to visit of her mother. She had been adopted by her paternal grandmother when she was just a baby. Stipes stated to Jackson during an interview,
When I was little I always thought maybe she (her mother) would come and get me. Then when I was ten or so I heard that she was killed on Little Shepherd’s Trail.
Karen had been told not to talk about it or to look into it any further, this didn’t stop her. Having gathered birth certificates and marriage cerificates for her mother, she never could find a death certificate. For decades, without having access to internet or DNA testing, Karen had no way of proving that it was her mother who had been buried in Harlan, Kentucky. Karen Stipes stated:
I just knew it’s her with every bone in my body. I just knew it. Everything that I ended up finding kept leading me that, that was her.
In 2009, Stipes had her own children searching the internet any chance that they could. In that same year a description was posted of “Mountain Jane Doe”.
They had my mother’s height and her description on there and it basically matched me.”Karen Stipes stated.
Karen contacted NAMUS, who put her in touch with the Kentucky State Police, and she gathered DNA samples from her children as well as herself. In 2016, Karen Stipes gets the phone call that “Mountain Jane Doe” is indeed her mother.
I used to pray that she would come and get me. And it never happened. Now getting the proof that it was her I know why she never…why she couldn’t. I know that. I would rather I was abandoned and she’s alive you know. I’m just glad I know where she is now. I can bury her.Karen Stipes stated having had to come to terms with the violent death that her mother had to endure.
You think about it. She had a brutal murder. It doesn’t matter what happened. She didn’t deserve that. Whoever done it needs to be caught. I just want them to find who killed her. They’ve already got away with it for 47 years.Karen Stipes
Voices of the Past, Present, and Future brings you this unsolved mystery of “Mountain Jane Doe”, whose murder has yet to be solved, but was finally given back her name, and laid to rest by her family.