MS LINCOLN COUNTY JANE DOE: WF, 16-35, found at rest area on I-55 in Lincoln County, MS - 17 Sep 1989 - Possibly from New Orleans *MELINDA LOU BARNHOUSE*


845UFMS - Unidentified Female​


Reconstructions of the victim; victim's headstone.

Date of Discovery: September 17, 1989
Location of Discovery: Lincoln County, Mississippi
Estimated Date of Death: Days prior
State of Remains: Recognizable face
Cause of Death: Homicide by strangulation

Physical Description

Estimated Age: 16-35 years old
Race: White, mixed with either Asian or Native American.
Sex: Female
Height: 5'2"
Weight: 135 to 145 lbs.
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Brown
Distinguishing Marks/Features: Freckles. Mole on neck. Pierced ear - unknown which. Scar on forehead about 1.0 cm in length.


Dentals: Available; jaw restricted paronex shoevel shaped incisor ortho.
Fingerprints: Available. RT: PM 14 18 14 17; LT: PI 63 13 16 11.

Clothing & Personal Items

Clothing: White athletic socks, rolled down, with three blue stripes.
Jewelry: Unknown
Additional Personal Items: Unknown

Circumstances of Discovery

The victim's nude body was found in the bushes at the rest area on Interstate 55 South in Lincoln County near mile marker 26, which is one mile north of the Dixie Springs exit. Those charged with her murder state that she was a prostitute and was picked up in New Orleans, Louisiana. They intended to rob her, but killed her and dumped her body in the area where she was found. They did not know her name. She was buried on December 14, 1989 in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Brookhaven.

Investigating Agency(s)

Agency Name: Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol
Agency Contact Person: N/A
Agency Phone Number: 601-987-1212
Agency E-Mail: N/A
Agency Case Number: B0096789C

Agency Name: Mississippi State Medical Examiner
Agency Contact Person: Mark LeVaughn
Agency Phone Number: 601-420-9140
Agency E-Mail: N/A
Agency Case Number: Unknown

Agency Name: Harrison County Sheriff's Office
Agency Contact Person: Kristi Johnson
Agency Phone Number: 228-896-3000
Agency E-Mail: N/A
Agency Case Number: Unknown

NCIC Case Number: U382447056
NamUs Case Number: 4769
Former Hot Case Number: 1600

Information Source(s)

Mississippi Missing & Unidentified Persons

Last edited by a moderator:
There's no info on the men who killed her?. They were going to rob her but they killed her instead?. I'm guessing rape since she was found nude. But there is alot of info missing here.

Years later, Jane Doe still not identified​

Published 5:00 am Friday, September 19, 2003
By Nanette Laster

"When I walked into the newsroom on that Monday morning, the staff was already at work on what would have been a big story for any small town. The body of a young woman had been found the day before by passersby at a roadside park on Interstate 55 south of Brookhaven. She was nude, except for a pair of white athletic socks, and had been strangled to death. Her age was estimated to be between 17 and 20.

The Lincoln County Jane Doe case was solved, with the exception of her identification.

A year after her body was found, law officers arrested Alfred Ray Case, then 26, of Brookhaven. He was eventually convicted of manslaughter. Case, now being held at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, will not be eligible for release before July 31, 2030.

Case told me in a 1998 prison interview that Jane Doe’s name was Jennie Miti. She was a prostitute he picked up in the French Quarter of New Orleans because she looked like his first wife. They traveled to a motel in McComb where he strangled her because he could not pay her $200 fee. He said he took $400 from her purse, where he saw the name on a Louisiana driver’s license, before dumping her body in Lincoln County.

Still, there was no way for law officers to identify the woman."


Published 9:26 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2023
By Daily Leader Staff

More than 30 years after her body was discovered in the bushes at a rest stop in Lincoln County, officials say they have identified the female homicide victim. On May 10, a multi-state investigation and additional DNA testing of a close family member the woman was positively identified as Melinda Lou Barnhouse of Maryland. The investigation began in September 1989, when a woman’s body nude was found in the bushes at a rest stop near mile marker 26 along the southbound side of I55 in Lincoln County. She had been strangled to death. Investigators at the time were unable to definitively determine the woman’s ancestry. They estimated her to be between 16 and 35 years old, with brown shoulder-length hair, possibly naturally curly or wavy, and blue eyes. She was about 5 foot 2 inches tall, 140 pounds and had a scar on her forehead and another on her right high.

She was buried as “Jane Doe” in a pauper’s plot at Rosehill Cemetery in Brookhaven. A year after her body was found, Alfred Ray Case, then 26, of Brookhaven was arrested and eventually convicted of manslaughter. At the time, reports said he would not be eligible for release until July 31, 2030. In 2003, a reporter for The Daily Leader wrote that Case had told her the victim’s name was Jennie Miti and he said she was a prostitute he picked up in New Orleans. In 2009, the case was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as case UP4769. Law enforcement investigators worked diligently to uncover leads about the unknown woman’s identity. Unfortunately, despite exhaustive efforts, no matches were found, and the case eventually went cold due to a lack of viable leads.

In 2022, the Mississippi Office of the State Medical Examiner in partnership with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and Mississippi Bureau of Investigation explored the potential of forensic genetic genealogy as a tool to generate new leads. “The Cold Case Unit of MBI contacted me late last year about working with them on this,” said Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing. “Fortunately, we still had files and some evidence here from the case.” Forensic evidence collected in the case was sent to Othram’s laboratory in The Woodlands, Texas. Othram scientists used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing to build a comprehensive genealogical profile for the unknown woman. Othram’s in-house genealogy team then leveraged this profile to conduct extensive genetic genealogy research, ultimately providing investigative leads to law enforcement.

Rushing said they received DNA confirmation a few days ago and are still working on a few details, such as verifying date of birth for Barnhouse. “We know 100 percent it was her,” Rushing said. “We’ve been in touch with family members — an aunt and a brother — and they’ll come down to Brookhaven later, probably in August.” The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation Cold Case Unit facilitated the interstate investigation required to bring this case to a resolution. On May 10, 2023, through additional DNA testing of a close family member, the unidentified woman was positively identified as Melinda Lou Barnhouse. Originally from Maryland, the circumstances surrounding how she ended up in Mississippi remain unclear. Significantly, the suspect in the case had been apprehended prior to the Barnhouse’s identification and is currently serving time in prison. “A lot of people worked on this case back then, and it’s been a long time coming,” Rushing said. “Now the family has got some closure on it, too.”


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