OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL)- It has been ten years since the gruesome discovery of skeletal remain belonging to a little girl were found in an Opelika Mobile Home Park along Hurst Street.
Since the discovery on Jan. 28, 2012, Opelika Jane Doe’s identity along with the identity of those responsible for her murder, has remained a mystery.
Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, the Opelika community gathered at the site to pay their respects. 10 light pink balloons were released in honor of Opelika Baby Jane Doe, just feet from where Yvonne Johnson’s family discovered the child’s skull Jan. 28, 2012.
“I have her picture on my phone, and I look at it all the time. I haven’t forgotten her. I won’t forget her,” Johnson said.
Chief Shane Healey of the Opelika Police Department reminisced on the case that has remained a mystery for a decade.
“It’s one of those cases that gets you in the gut and I think it’s a way for them to show respect her, make sure she knows we have not forgotten her and we are still fighting every day.”
Although her identity remains unknown, local law enforcement has formed a family for Opelika Baby Jane Doe and say there is hope that her true name, and what happened to her will be uncovered soon.
“We all here are her family, we are her people and we are the ones who love her, who miss her and we are the ones who mourn her, and one day we can meet her face to face and we will know her name, without a doubt,” said Lee County District Attorney, Jessica Ventiere.
Investigators say Baby Jane Doe was between four and seven years old – when she was murdered in 2010 or 2011. Forensics indicate she was abused, malnourished with a scarred left eye.
Jane Doe is believed to be the little girl in these pictures taken at Greater Peace Baptist Church Vacation Bible School in Opelika.
“There are a lot of things moving in the case, I am not going to get into the details but I know our entire detective division they are some significant things happening that we hope will bring us to be able to identify her and identify her killer,” Chief Healey shared.
Johnson shared a final pleading message for the those responsible for the death of Opelika Jane Doe.
“I hope and pray it will be soon, because somebody is living a bad life. I wish they would come forward now, it’s not too late, it’s not too late.”
Investigators have spent the past decade trying bring justice for the little girl. On the anniversary of the uncovering of Opelika Baby Jane Doe, the Opelika Police Department also released a video retelling the story of the little girl, giving her a voice.
Opelika Police Department release video in remembrance of Opelika Baby Jane Doe
“Can you help tell my story. It was Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, when a woman found my remains near a creek break on Hurst Street.
They’re not sure how long I was there before I was discovered. I was wearing a long sleeved pink shirt with heart buttons and small ruffles along the neck, and medium length brown hair, styled in cornrows, and my left eye was scarred.
The police department spent days digging through the woods to try and discover any clues as to who I was or what happened to me. There were no missing children reported. No one came forward to identify me. They weren’t even able to determine my height or weight. Or how old I was.
The nice people at the national center for missing and exploited children were able to do an assessment of my bones, which suggest I was born and raised in the south. Maybe even right here in East Alabama.
It also appears that I was abused, malnourished, and neglected. In 2016, a woman was going through photos, when a little girl caught her attention.
The photo was taken at Greater Peace Baptist Church vacation Bible school in the summer of 2011. She shared the photos with law enforcement and they believe the little girl in the photo is me. They were excited and hopeful that this might be the tip they needed to identify me. Unfortunately, the church no longer has records from that year and no one seems to recognized me.
The police have followed leads from all over the country, including Arizona, New Jersey, Florida, and Kentucky. Unfortunately, none of those tips have led to my name or who might have done this to me. It has been ten years since the day I was found. I know there is someone out there who can help these detectives fill in the gaps and give me my name.“
Previous reports from WRBL News 3
Aug. 25, 2016: Do you recognize this little girl found dead in Opelika?
Sept. 29, 2016: New photos released in Opelika “Jane Doe” case
March 14, 2018: East Alabama searches for answers in “Baby Jane Doe” case
Feb. 24, 2021: Who is Jane Doe?