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RACINE - On the edge of a cornfield in the town of Raymond, a man walking his dog made a horrible discovery the morning of July 21, 1999.

At 6:10 a.m. he found the abused body of a young woman tucked just along the field on 92nd Street, between 6 and 7 Mile roads.

For 12 years Racine County sheriff's investigators have been trying to identify the young woman. She was buried as Jane Doe, and remains Jane Doe today.

Who is she?

Apparently dumped in the field overnight, Jane Doe's body wouldn't have been visible to passing cars.

Investigators say she is a white woman, between the ages of 18 and 30. Jane Doe was 5 feet 8 inches tall and 120 pounds. She had brown hair and eyes that could have been brown or hazel, but not blue. Her two upper front teeth protruded slightly and she had several missing or decayed teeth.

Both of Jane Doe's ears were double-pierced. She did not appear to have any scars or tattoos.

For more than a decade, investigators have been circulating an artist's rendering of Jane Doe done by someone from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

But they don't know for sure how the young woman wore her hair, or what color her eyes were. They only know her eyes weren't blue.

Jane Doe was repeatedly tortured for up to four weeks before her death, authorities said. She suffered burns and blunt force trauma to much of her body, a nose fracture, cuts to the head, abrasions to the forehead, a heavily battered left ear - often called a cauliflower ear - and showed signs of being both sexually abused and malnourished.

The investigators

Investigator Eileen Reilly was assigned to the homicide investigation and exhausted more than a thousand leads before she retired in 2008.

"I feel like I failed her, that I didn't get her identified," Reilly said.

But she says the case is in capable hands.

Investigators Cary Madrigal and Tom Knaus were assigned to take it over in June, along with other cold homicide cases.

"This is the case that burns in all of our minds, because she's not identified," said Madrigal. "At the bare minimum, we want to identify her."

To date, investigators have eliminated about 1,600 leads in the case. "We've used DNA, fingerprints, dental records and physical descriptions to eliminate," Knaus said.

They go through, one by one, making calls to authorities in other states and even internationally.

"I thought I had a really good lead (recently)," Knaus said.

A woman had given her child up for adoption and the child, now a teenager, went missing from her adoptive parents home in another state. Then DNA ruled out that Jane Doe was the daughter.

But investigators believe they have to be on the right track with the situation, since no one has come forward to claim Jane Doe as their daughter, sister or friend.

"It's got to be a situation with a dysfunctional family or a runaway," Knaus said.

Another theory they have is that Jane Doe is from another country.

Reilly said at the time she was investigating the homicide, she had hired in-home care for her sick mother. The caregiver was not a U.S. citizen. Reilly said it put the idea in her head that maybe Jane Doe was from another country.

"It's definitely been a theory," Knaus said.

They haven't given up hope that someone, somewhere knows who Jane Doe is.

"We get potential leads monthly on this case," Knaus said.

The evidence

Investigators are also hopeful that advances in technology, such as DNA testing, since the young woman's body was found, will help them figure out who she is and who killed her.

"There's a lot more they can do now," Madrigal said. She said they have been taking another look at all the evidence since she and Knaus took over the case. The evidence will also be tested again to see if new technology will give them new results.

Dozens of pieces of evidence have been collected. Most importantly, the detectives feel, is the man's shirt Jane Doe was wearing when her body was discovered. It's gray or silver country western-style shirt with pearlized snap buttons and a red floral pattern on the chest. She was also wearing a pair of black sweat pants.

In the beginning stages of the investigation, now Chief Deputy John Hanrahan tracked down the manufacturer of the shirt and found it was only made for a short period of time. They also tracked down where the shirt was distributed.

"The shirt and pants are critical pieces of evidence," Knaus said.

Continuing with the case

The investigators have worked with and continue to work with numerous agencies on the case, including the FBI and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They've utilized the national Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

Thus far they don't have a match for Jane Doe.

While this is a big case to local detectives, they say they know it's not necessarily a big priority in other jurisdictions. And that means that a missing person report on Jane Doe may have simply fallen through the cracks somewhere.

Reilly said she once called a police investigator in Miami to check on a lead there. The Miami detective told Reilly she had case files on 20 unidentified body homicides on her desk.

Despite the dead ends they've encountered over the past 12 years, the investigators aren't giving up on identifying Jane Doe. Even Reilly, although retired, helps Madrigal and Knaus when they have questions or need direction on something in the case.

They're still working it and they plan to see it through.

"We refuse to let dust settle on this case," said Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling.


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