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Jane Doe No. 52: 4 years later, body on conveyor belt still a mystery

Four years after the body of Jane Doe No. 52 was found on a conveyor belt at a recycling center in Chinatown, Los Angeles Police Det. Brian Putman stood outside a public works building late Wednesday afternoon and addressed a crowd of officers and explorers.

Amid the sound of booming car radios in East Hollywood, Putman gave a brief summary of the 2010 homicide case: The woman’s body was discovered Sept. 10 as employees were sorting recyclables on a conveyor belt. Her naked body had been wrapped in several layers of bed linens and trash bags, then dumped in a recycling container.

A small sterling silver ring with a blue alexandrite center stone surrounded by tiny gems of cubic zirconium was also found with the body.

But the body was so decomposed that officials were unable to identify the woman through fingerprints.

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“We don’t even have the color of her eyes,” Putman said.

Having exhausted all leads in the case, Putman sent the group out to canvass the neighborhood.

Over the years, Putman said investigators have been able to narrow down the area where they believe the body may have been dumped, but have turned up nothing in the way of leads.

They combed through missing-person reports and used cadaver dogs on the trash route her body is believed to have traveled. They even sent the woman’s dental work to the California Dental Assn. hoping someone might recognize the rendering of her face.

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

A reward offer and composite sketch of the woman were also released to the public.

Nothing has been successful. 

“It’s very frustrating,” Putman said. “Someone knows this woman.”

Authorities estimate that Jane Doe No. 52 was anywhere between 30 and 80 years old, a white or Latino woman, with brown or auburn hair, standing about 5 feet 4 inches tall. 

Sitting in front of a taco truck, 57-year-old Jose Oai was one of dozens of people who was given a flyer by the officers canvassing the area. 

“I think it’s great the Police Department is continuing to dig for the truth about what happened to this woman,” Oai said. “For the sake of the family’s tranquility and even the investigators, it’s important that they identify her.”

But by Wednesday night, she remained Jane Doe No. 52.

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

For more Southern California news follow @LATVives


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