PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A private burial service was held Saturday for the unidentified embalmed head found in the woods in Beaver County last year.
The woman’s headstone will read: Jane Doe – found Dec. 12, 2014.
Economy Borough Police held a press conference Monday morning to release new information about the case.
Investigators believe the woman was at least in her 50s and possibly grew up in this area. They learned that through science, but they weren’t sure what to make of the fact that her eyes were missing… and replaced with red balls, found in her eye sockets.
“We have also been in contact with the funeral directors association, the medical examiner’s association, among several other schools that have all stated that this is not a common use or have never even heard of this type of use to replace eyes that have been inoculated from a body,” said Economy Police Chief Michael O’Brien. “We have investigated these and found them to be a common toy mass produced in China.”
That made it difficult to trace because they are found everywhere.
It was just one of many unanswered questions about the embalmed head found just off Mason Road in Economy Borough last year.
The way the head was severed from the body raised a number of questions as well.
“The exterior tissue was severed by a jagged formation,” said Beaver County Coroner Teri Tatalovich-Rossi. “But the interior of her remains were more precise. Precisely cut. And we cannot make a determination as to exactly how that happened.”
The science of examining isotopes in the body from consumed water and food leads them to believe the woman spent her last seven months in the region that could include anywhere from western Pennsylvania to eastern Ohio to northern West Virginia or Maryland .
“One of the theories that would explain why we have such a large geographical area that she may have, in fact, been with different family members or friends may have be caretakers during the last two years of her life,” said Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh.
Investigators released more sketches indicating what she looked like at death and a projection of what she may have looked like in her 30s.
But all of these circumstances together raise questions about why none of the leads have led anywhere.
“It makes one think that someone would step forward unless some intervening act occurred between the embalming process and the burial or the cremation. That’s what we’ve been investigating obviously,” said Berosh.
Former Allegheny Coroner and Medical Examiner Dr. Cyril Wecht, when asked about the head, said, “This was not something done with sensitivity, rather it was mischief, done frivolously, but, why was it done, I do not know.”
Wecht, a renowned forensic pathologist known worldwide, was interviewed hours after the press conference.
Dr. Wecht said he thought the victim might have been an eye donor, explaining, “I can’t imagine someone cutting out a person’s eyes, and not disfiguring the rest of the face.”
Chief O’Brien said, “Her identity is a priority in this investigation, she deserves to have a name put to her face.”
And, still a year later, anyone with information about the identity of the woman is asked to call Economy Borough police.