FL COLLIER COUNTY JANE DOE: WF, 40-70, found in shallow grave on State Route 29 (I-175), FL - 3 Jun 1978 *JOAN WATERS*

235UFFL - Unidentified Female​


Reconstructions of the victim.

Date of Discovery: June 3, 1978
Location of Discovery: Collier County, Florida
Estimated Date of Death: 1978
State of Remains: Decomposed
Cause of Death: Homicide by beating

Physical Description

Estimated Age: 40-70 years old
Race: White
Sex: Female
Height: 5'0" to 5'5"
Weight: 180 lbs.
Hair Color: Light brown
Eye Color: Possibly hazel
Distinguishing Marks/Features: She may have had chronic ear infections which may have resulted in hearing loss.


Dentals: Available. Her dental work would not have been possible in a small town during the time frame, but possible in a larger city. She had extensive dental work done on both upper and lower teeth. She had ceramic bridges on most of her teeth. Odontologist estimates that dental work would probably have had been done within two years prior to her death, and she may have still been under the dentist care. Restorative work was of extremely high quality and not capable of being done by the average dentist. It was felt she would have been under the active care of a dentist at the time of her death, possibly with a treatment plan for caps on the upper front teeth and upper right and upper left molar areas. Most of the work appeared to have been performed within two years of her death.
Fingerprints: Unknown.
DNA: Available.

Clothing & Personal Items

Clothing: None.
Jewelry: None.
Additional Personal Items: None.

Circumstances of Discovery

The victim was located in a shallow grave, covered with brush, 1/2 mile south of State Route 84 (Alligator Alley) on State Route 29. (I-175 by present day maps.) in the late afternoon hours of June 3, 1978.

The victim's body was covered with a white substance, which was later analyzed and identified to be hydrated lime or caustic lime, which is used in such things as mortars and cements as well as agricultural purposes.

Investigating Agency(s)

Agency Name: District 20 Medical Examiner's Office
Agency Contact Person: Marta Coburn
Agency Phone Number: 239-434-5020
Agency E-Mail: N/A
Agency Case Number: 1978-00093

Agency Name: Collier County Sheriff's Office
Agency Contact Person: N/A
Agency Phone Number: 239-252-9300
Agency E-Mail: N/A
Agency Case Number: 78-16674

NCIC Case Number: U970006150
NamUs Case Number: 374

Information Source(s)

Collier County Sheriff


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Collier County Sheriff’s Office & FBI Team with Othram to Identify a 1978 Homicide Victim​

After 46 years, a woman whose remains were discovered in a shallow grave in Collier County, Florida, has been identified as Joan Shirley Joyce Waters, born in 1936.

How new tech helped ID a woman killed, buried near the Everglades 46 years ago​

After 46 years of mystery, investigators have identified the name of a woman whose remains were found near a remote dirt road. Using modern DNA technology, detectives determined it was Joan Shirley Joyce Waters who had been killed in 1978 just a half mile south of Alligator Alley in Collier County.

The skeletal remains of the woman were discovered with blunt force trauma in a shallow grave. The case had gone cold due to little evidence until advancements in forensic genetic genealogy provided a breakthrough.

"We built a DNA profile and used this profile to do what people call forensic genetic genealogy," said Othram CEO David Mittelman, whose company specializes in forensics.

Mittelman explained, "Her relatives that live on today... If anyone even distantly related to her is in a database, then we can piece together the clues from public records, family trees, and genetic profiles."

The collaboration between Othram, the FBI, and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office successfully traced Joan Waters’ family. This despite her not being reported missing.

Detective William Still of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office said he spoke to Joan Waters' sibling when they made the match.

"And that sibling of hers, he'd been out of touch with her, didn't know what had happened. The last time he had seen her was in the early '70s," Still said.

Despite identifying Joan Waters, Detective Still said that the case remains open as they work to confirm the person responsible for Joans' killing.

"I can tell you that person is no longer a threat. The one person we're looking at right now is deceased," said Detective Still. "But there's a little bit more work to be done before we can say the case has been solved definitively," he added.

Meanwhile, Othram is uncovering more cases by the week. While the full circumstances of Joan's death may never be known, Mittelman says helping identy the victims brings some closure to the family.

"It's terrible to die and to be murdered, but even worse that your family doesn't even know something happened to you," Mittelman said. He added, "Being able to provide some answers, even if we can't rectify the situation, means the world to us.

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