Cincinnati Jane Doe (aka Pearl Lady)

Pearl Lady

Pearl Lady


A funny thing happened when I was about to post this latest Jane Doe. She was identified just days ago. I am pleased as heck that she’s no longer unclaimed, but I am admittedly a little chuffed that I couldn’t post my rendition of her face beforehand.

It was suggested to me that I might as well post the article anyway. I am totally curious to see if recent pictures of the deceased woman exist so that I can compare my effort to her face when she was alive.

So here is my original article and artwork with the update at the bottom:

Time again for another Jane Doe. This poor lady was discovered on November 29, 2006 in Hamilton County, Ohio. She was floating 5 feet from shore in the Ohio River, just west of Cincinnati.

A worker at Consolidated Grain made the grim discovery at around 1:00 p.m. that November day. He reported it to authorities, and the coroner’s office retrieved the body at around 3:00 p.m.

This Jane Doe, commonly known as “Pearl Lady” was determined to have been dead for approximately 2 days. There were no signs of foul play.

The victim was an older lady, between 60 and 70 years old. She may have been as young as her late 50s but not likely. She had moderate arthritis in her spine, and osteoarthritis in her fingers and toes. In other words, this lady suffered some pain.

Jane Doe was 5’2″ tall and 130-135 pounds. Her eyes were hazel in colour, with clouding of her corneas. She was white and her complexion was fair.

The woman had abdominal stretch marks, according to the autopsy report. I’m guessing that means she might have been a mother or had once been much heavier.

Her hair was gray with dyed highlights — that tells me she had a hair stylist. Her hairstyle wasn’t very long, maybe 6 inches at most.

There was only one filling in the victim’s teeth — pretty good considering she was an older lady.

IMO, the poor woman was all dressed up for a day out, maybe visiting. She had her makeup on, and clear polish on her fingernails. She wore a black long-sleeved blouse and a size 6 black skirt. She wore tan nylon pantyhose. She was accessorized with some jewelry — a strand of Monet white beads and a separate strand of black beads separated by small yellow metal beads. She did not have earrings even though her ears were pierced. There were no rings on her fingers.

The woman was wearing white socks and white and gray Easy Spirit sneakers, size 6 1/2. This makes me think that she walked a distance that day or expected to — probably she didn’t drive. I would have expected black shoes to go with her ensemble. Since her toes were curled from arthritis, maybe those were the most comfortable shoes the woman had to wear.

All of the victim’s clothing was cheap stuff, made in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Turkey. The sneakers were made in China. Her necklaces were cheap too. This lady was on a tight budget, IMO.

Where was her purse? Nowhere to be found. Neither was her coat.

The victim could have fallen, jumped or been pushed from a bridge or boat into the water, causing her death. It’s more likely she fell from a height because she suffered impact injuries. All of her ribs were broken, along with other bones.

American Thanksgiving in 2006 was on November 23. This Jane Doe died 4 days later. It could be she was suicidal — does one jump into the river with one’s shoes and jewelry? If she were homeless, would it be likely she’d be wearing a skirt and blouse at the end of November? And would it be likely she’d have access to nail polish to spiffy herself up? No, she had a home somewhere, IMO.

A lot of people were murdered in Cincinnati in 2006 — eighty or so. Damn that’s a lot of work for investigators! I think the record in my city is 33, and I consider that way, way too horrible and shocking.

I also learned that in Hamilton County the coroner handles about 3,400 bodies a year. Busy guy!

The authorities have done what they can to discover who this poor woman is. They checked missing persons reports in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky with no luck. They released pictures of the woman and her possessions. Despite these efforts the woman remains unidentified.

There have been other facial reconstructions made of this Jane Doe, but that fact doesn’t deter me from having a go at it. And here is my effort. I included her makeup and her pearls, naturally.

Jane Doe Pearl Lady


The poor woman was identified just days ago as Barbara Hess. Her family was prominent in Cincinnati society. Her father was a judge and president of the Bar Association.

Barbara HessBarbara Hess and her husband had gone into hiding in 1983 after their lives were threatened. They later left their young daughters at an orphanage so that they could be adopted and live a normal life.

Barbara Hess and her husband traveled as nomads and headed to California. She was caught shoplifting food and her fingerprints were put in a database. That’s how her identity was discovered.

Obviously Barbara Hess had returned to Cincinnati. I don’t know what became of her husband. Questions now arise if the original villains who threatened to kill them had managed to murder Barbara Hess after all these years.

Because of the circumstances of her life, I very much doubt that she’d allowed anyone to take her photo since 1983. news – identity revealed
Fox 19 News article article

5 Responses to Cincinnati Jane Doe (aka Pearl Lady)

  1. moodymagic says:

    another very well done face Cleo

  2. 2cute says:

    If I left my kids at an orphanage I would be suicidal. I wonder if the girls remember their parents at all. Hope they had happy lives.

  3. Awesomeblossom says:

    Barbara Hess has only been dead for 8 years so maybe now she’s identified the police can track down her killers.

  4. Katherine says:

    God rest this poor woman’s soul.

  5. PJ says:

    Good job Cleo. I wonder how close you were to the woman’s actual face. Looks close to me.

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