Well, this is absolutely terrible

So I’m trying to ease back into things, still not feeling the greatest, and I ran Nelda Louise Hardwick‘s name through Newspapers.com and came across an awful story.

Nelda may have been killed along Interstate 10 in Hancock County, Mississippi on May 10, 1998, four and a half years after her disappearance from Lake Charles, Louisiana on October 14, 1993.

The unidentified woman was a pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle on the interstate. In 2013, Nelda’s family identified the dead woman as her based on photos of the body.

The coroner was quoted as saying there was just “one chance in a thousand” that the body wasn’t Nelda, and speculated she was held captive the entire time and somehow managed to finally escape, only to be killed on the road.

An exhumation was duly ordered, but when they dug up the Jane Doe’s grave in St. Joseph Cemetery, they found a MAN in the coffin, not a woman. The judge ordered the proceedings stopped, writing, “Unfortunately, it appears that the remains at the Jane Doe headstone were not those of Jane Doe. Further, the chief medical examiner advises it is obvious that the location of her grave is unknown.”

So Nelda is still listed among the missing, and this Jane Doe is now missing as well and will probably NEVER be identified now.

I cannot imagine how devastating this must have been for Nelda’s family.

19 thoughts on “Well, this is absolutely terrible

  1. fluttergirl April 30, 2018 / 5:20 pm

    Can they get away with that? Just writing it off? They should find out who the guy buried in Jane Doe’s grave is, through DNA or dental records or whatever. Then find out who else was buried during the week that Jane Doe was supposed to be buried. This is ridiculous. I’m pissed off for Nelda’s family.

    • Meaghan April 30, 2018 / 5:22 pm

      That’s a good way to do it, but money may be an issue. Neither Mississippi nor Louisiana are exactly rolling in it.

      • fluttergirl April 30, 2018 / 5:28 pm

        I know. I’m just outraged at the incompetence. These are human beings with families, not roadkill to be shoveled into a hole and forgotten. I’m sorry. I usually don’t comment on things when I’m angry or upset. I wish things could be different for Nelda and Jane Doe. And John Doe, since they apparently have no idea who he is, either. Thank you for the updates, Meaghan. Even if what I read infuriates or disgusts me, I appreciate you keeping us informed.

      • Meaghan April 30, 2018 / 5:41 pm

        I know, it is outrageous. It reminds me of a Forensic Files case I saw the other night, a cold case murder from the 1960s where the police lost or discarded the victim’s crime scene photos and then the only real evidence they had, the fingerprints taken from her vehicle!

        It turned out the fingerprints had been misfiled, and they were found after searching through like thousands of files for weeks, because the victim’s brother was a Texas Ranger and so they were anxious to solve this case. They did solve it, which was admirable, all those decades after the fact, but if the victim hadn’t had connections her killer would have gotten away with murder for the rest of his days and not just for like 40 years.

    • Christie M Groves April 30, 2018 / 5:40 pm

      Geez, I hope they did something about John Doe this is so F-ed. Poor Nelda. I mean how many Does did they have to bury that year? This is just such a shame, this happens far too often.

      • Meaghan April 30, 2018 / 5:44 pm

        I speculate that whatever happened was this:

        Jane Doe, having no family or anything, was buried by the state, meaning that her grave would have been unmarked. Now, the judge mentions a headstone, so perhaps later some sympathetic people raised the $$$ to erect a stone at the site of the grave. However, when they buried Jane Doe they made some kind of typo in the records as to exactly where she was, and thus the stone was erected at the wrong plot. There’s a good chance that the man buried there was not an unidentified person, but was simply a pauper buried at state expense.

  2. marsyao April 30, 2018 / 7:09 pm

    In the army, this would be called as snafu: situation normal all fuck up

  3. marsyao April 30, 2018 / 7:14 pm

    I wonder why The coroner think she was kept captive for all these time and just recently escaped ?

  4. Jennifer Mayfield May 1, 2018 / 7:54 am

    Coroner probably found her emaciated, maybe signs of abuse or toeture. Maybe drugs in her system. Healed wounds or bones. Maybe she was disoriented is why she ended up hit by a car. It’s so tragic!! Sad for the famiky….sad for her.

    • Meaghan May 1, 2018 / 8:15 am

      It reminds me of when the girls were found at Ariel Castro’s house, and a reporter asked me how many people in America I thought were in that situation, and I said, “Dozens, certainly. Perhaps hundreds.”

    • marsyao May 1, 2018 / 10:07 am

      She did not look emaciated (5’3″ to 5’5″, 130-135 lbs.) no drug in her system, there was no scars and no healed wonds

      Estimated Age: 37-42 years old
      Race: White
      Gender: Female
      Height: 5’3″ to 5’5″
      Weight: 130-135 lbs.
      Hair Color: Naturally brown, curly and 16 to 18 inches long. Dyed a slightly different color, giving it the apppearence of reddish-brown.
      Eye Color: Gray (described as unique in color.)
      Distinguishing Marks/Features: Vaccination scar on her left arm. Old hysterectomy scar from a C-section running from her navel down to her pubis. Closer examination revealed that the woman had given birth to at least 2 children, perhaps more. Seven “Ephedrine-Guaifenefine MINI” pills were found in her right back jean pocket. She suffered from black lung disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Thick mucus was present in her lungs. She had moderate osteoarthritis in her spine. She was tan and freckled with bug bites present on her body. Her legs and underarms were unshaven. Her fingernails and toenails were short, uneven and dirty. There was a black, greasy smudge on the medial right foot from the base of the first toe into the arch. Her ears were not pierced. There were no signs of alcohol or drugs in her system.


      • Meaghan May 1, 2018 / 10:09 am

        She may not have been emaciated but she clearly wasn’t doing well health-wise and it appears she had been sleeping rough for a time prior to her death.

      • marsyao May 1, 2018 / 10:37 am

        This I agree, she could be homeless for sometime, how she came to this point we do not really know. To your previous post, I agree that there are way to many case of violence against women in this country, but it is very rare that perpetrators kept their victims alive and lock up for years, I pay attention to true crimes, I could only recall two such case Elizabeth Smart and these victims of these girls found at Ariel Castro’s house,

      • Meaghan May 1, 2018 / 10:38 am

        There are others I can name. Just not as famous.

  5. Mia May 1, 2018 / 9:10 am

    This is the woman in Mississippi. http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/178ufms.html

    The same thing happened with Nick Zizzamia and a UID found in a hotel room in Richmond, Indiana. They’re sure it’s him, but have no idea where the UID is buried.

  6. Patrick Kerrigan May 1, 2018 / 8:37 pm

    We should be contacting our supposed elected officials and demand that the cemeteries where unidentified deceased are buried maintain accurate records of where these Jane and John Does are buried. We have people who visit cemeteries around the country and document whose buried there and enter them on Find-A-Grave and Billions of Graves. I know that Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York has all their burial records on-line.

    However, there is a cemetery in Alsip, Illinois, where Emmett Till, is buried that was digging up remains and burying others in the graves. It was a major story in the Chicagoland area. The problem as been corrected and there is new management.

    However, in these smaller communities there should not be a major problem, of documenting who is buried where.

    • Meaghan May 1, 2018 / 8:43 pm

      In England I know many people used to be buried in communal graves. You could lease a plot for twenty years or so, then they’d open it up and put another person’s coffin on top of yours. Rinse and repeat until they reached the top.

  7. Alice May 2, 2018 / 7:17 am

    Do you know what the most terrifying part is for me? If this WAS a hostage situation (and that’s IF; she may have simply been homeless after having amnesia or something) then the guy got away with it for thirty years and might have other victims.

    • Meaghan May 2, 2018 / 9:57 am

      I know. All because of a clerical error in cemetery records.

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