On August 22, 2001 construction workers uncovered a plastic bag in the backyard of a new home site in Redondo Beach, California. Stuffed inside the bag was a headless skeleton. Following an autopsy an anthropologist reported the remains were of a Caucasian female, 20-50 years old. Based on location of skeleton and infrastructure in ground, the victim died sometime between 1974 and 2001. Early analysis of Jane Doe’s DNA indicates that she is actually descended from ancestors in Sub-Saharan Afrida.
NamUs ID: UP3342
Date Body Found: August 22, 2001
Estimated Age: 20-50
Estimated PMI: 1-26 years
Location: Redondo Beach, CA
Agency of Jurisdiction
Redondo Beach Police Department
Links to More Information
Image Credit: Image compiled by Jack Friess, DNA Doe Project
Inglewood, CA – The Redondo Jane Doe 2001 case, a long-standing unidentified person investigation, has finally been resolved with the identification of the victim as Catherine Parker Johnson of Memphis, Tennessee. Catherine, who was 23 years old at the time of her death, went missing in 1981.
Catherine Parker Johnson
In August, 2001, construction workers on a new home site uncovered a plastic bag in the back yard containing a headless skeleton. Authorities believed she died sometime between 1974 and 2001, and that she was Caucasian. Lacking any evidence to indicate her identity, the case went cold until 2019 when investigators engaged the DNA Doe Project.
One of the first things researchers found when a DNA profile was developed from the remains was that she was actually of Sub-Saharan African descent, and not Caucasian as originally thought.
Through the utilization of innovative investigative genetic genealogy techniques, the DNA Doe Project was able to analyze relationships among the Jane Doe’s DNA relatives to find crucial clues about the victim’s identity. Since African-Americans are underrepresented in the databases that can be used to investigate forensic cases, the research was hard and slow-going until the team was able to narrow the family tree. Relatives who provided DNA profiles for comparison allowed investigators to further zero in on the correct branch of the family tree and they located Catherine Parker Johnson.
“The families who worked with law enforcement and agreed to help by either testing or uploading for comparison were the key to solving this case. We want to thank every one of them as we could not have identified Catherine Parker without their help,” said team leader Missy Koski. “Sometimes we just don’t know who all of our cousins are, but DNA can help put families back together. Our deepest condolences to her children who at least have an answer now.”
The DNA Doe Project is grateful to the groups and individuals who helped resolve this case: the Redondo Beach Police Department, who entrusted the case to the DNA Doe Project; DNA Solutions for extraction of DNA; HudsonAlpha Discovery for sequencing; Greg Magoon for bioinformatics; Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations for bioinformatics; GEDmatch Pro and FTDNA for providing their databases; and DDP’s dedicated teams of volunteer investigative genetic genealogists who work tirelessly to bring all our Jane and John Does home.
Last Updated: June 26, 2023