IN MARY JANE DOE: WF, 20-25, found in the basement of a vacant house in Fort Wayne, IN - 15 May 1992 *TABETHA MURLIN*



Circumstances of Recovery: Unidentified female remains were found in Fort Wayne, IN on 05/15/1992. The remains were wrapped in a furniture cover in the basement of a vacant house at 3512 Reynolds Street. The decedent was pregnant at the time of her death. She may have been towards the end of her 2nd trimester or just entering her 3rd trimester at time of death.

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A Huntington woman is looking to raise $4,400 to identify a woman who was found dead in a Fort Wayne home more than 30 years ago.

Lisa Needler, co-founder of IGGnite DNA, hopes the money will cover necessary lab work to uncover Mary Jane Doe’s true identity. Doe, who was later found to be pregnant when she died, has remained unidentified since she was found in the flooded basement of a Fort Wayne home in 1992.

When it was found, not much of Doe’s body was left because water in the basement had drastically sped up decomposition, according to Allen County Deputy Coroner Chris Meihls. Discovering the woman’s identity has been difficult because of the lack of information available.

The information available has led to some success.

And that’s where Needler hopes to come in.

Needler said she first became interested in the case when she read a Journal Gazette news story from April about the county’s unidentified decedents and recognized Meihls’ name from previous cases he had been involved with. The locality stood out to her, she said, and working on a local case would be special.

“It’s always an honor to be able to be some sort of help for these agencies,” Needler said. “But to be on something that would be local to me would be even more important.”

Doe’s local tie, Needler said, makes her want to work even harder to identify her.

“Every case is important. For every person that’s unidentified, somebody is out there and either doesn’t know that person is missing or doesn’t realize that their family member may be laying there somewhere waiting to be identified,” Needler said. “But when you bring it closer to home, or in a city you’ve lived in, there’s a personal tie to that.”

“She may have shopped at the same grocery store; she may have been a part of your family or friends, or possibly your coworkers, family and friends.”

Doe was likely between the ages of 20 and 25 and in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. Her remains indicate she was likely 4-foot-6 to 5-foot-2 and possibly had an altered posture or back pain.

Likely with blonde or light brown hair, Doe was found with a gray or light blue Windcrest jacket, a knit shirt with white and dark–colored cross stripes, a black bra and white underwear, black sweatpants, size 10 pink Reebok tennis shoes and two gold-colored necklaces – one braided and the other with three star charms.

Evidence found in the basement suggests the woman was transient at the time of her death, which most likely happened in late 1991 or early 1992.

IGGnite DNA is a Hartford, Connecticut-based company that assists law enforcement agencies with cases, including unidentified victims, by offering Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy services. IGGnite DNA also provides Genetic Genealogy consulting services to people, including adoptees, searching for family members or seeking answers related to their ancestry.

As a female-owned business, IGGnite’s team also felt it would be important to work on Doe’s case because she was pregnant at the time of her death, Needler said.

“Most of us are mothers and when somebody is carrying a child, that’s when they should be the most protected,” Needler said. “That’s what makes her case even more tragic.”

So, Needler decided to ask Meihls what could be done. What she found was a need for funding lab work and uploading the DNA file to workable databases.

With the work completed, Needler and her team would be able to give their time to the cause. IGGnite DNA would try to find connections between the unidentified woman and others with DNA in the database to track down relatives of Doe.

“Once we get that file in one of those databases, we can start building genealogical trees with records,” Needler said. “That way we can try to build a family tree that would eventually lead to who this Mary Jane Doe is.”

  • 8 hrs ago
The Allen County coroner’s office said Tuesday it has resolved a cold case of an unidentified woman who died more than 30 years ago.

A news conference is scheduled Thursday morning to provide details into the investigation of Mary Jane Doe, whose date of death was May 15, 1992, a Tuesday news release said.

A forensic artist created a facial reconstruction and bust of Doe several years ago to show what the woman might have looked like in life. The artist, Beth Buchholtz, specializes in 3D reconstructions and approximation, 2D facial reconstructions and other services to assist in establishing identity in deceased-person cases.

Last June, the co-founder of IGGnite DNA began soliciting more than $4,000 to help cover lab work to help uncover the identity of Mary Jane Doe. Lisa Needler said she got the idea after seeing a story in The Journal Gazette in April about the case and unresolved identity. IGGNite offers Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy services to law enforcement agencies to assist in cases including homicides, sexual assault crimes, and unidentified remains.

Doe, who was found to be pregnant when she died, has remained unidentified since she was found in the flooded basement of a Fort Wayne home in 1992. Earlier information indicated she was likely between 20 to 25, short in stature, and possibly transient.

When found, not much of Doe’s body was left because water in the basement had drastically sped up decomposition, Allen County Deputy Coroner Chris Meihls said last year. Discovering the woman’s identity had been difficult because of the lack of information available although some clothing items and jewelry were found.

When photos of the 3D reconstructions are released, the person is more likely to be recognized if information about the person’s clothes, personal effects, tattoos and details about where they were found is included with the images, Buchholtz told The Journal Gazette last year.

Thursday’s news conference will be at 9:30 a.m. at Rousseau Centre, 1 E. Main St.

February 16, 2024 / 6:24 AM EST / CBS/AP

A pregnant woman who was found dead in 1992 in a northeastern Indiana basement has been identified through forensic genetic genealogy and DNA provided by her father, authorities said Thursday.

The woman was identified as Tabetha Ann Murlin of Fort Wayne, who was about 26 weeks pregnant at the time of her death, said Allen County Coroner Dr. E. Jon Brandenberger.

"This is Tabetha's day, and you've been waiting to have a day for her for all this time," the coroner said at a news conference attended by some of Murlin's relatives nearly 32 years after her body was discovered.

Brandenberger said Murlin would have been 23 when a construction worker found her decomposed body wrapped in a blanket in May 1992 in the flooded basement of a home being renovated in Fort Wayne.

Investigators estimated the then-identified woman had died between late 1991 and early 1992.



Murlin's identity was confirmed after her father submitted a sample of his DNA for testing in January, authorities said.

Chief Deputy Coroner Christopher Meihls met with the man believed to be Murlin's father, whose DNA was submitted to Indiana State Police, WANE-TV reported.

"The coroner came to my house, they talked to me and they told me that she passed away," Murlin's father said. "I couldn't believe it."

Murlin was buried in Lindenwood Cemetery on May 21, 1992, WANE reported.

"This was such a team effort," Brandenberger said. "From our office, to the state police, to the different places around the country where the DNA went."

The cause and manner of Murlin's death have not been determined and the investigation into her death is continuing, officials said Thursday.

Anyone with information on what led to Murlin's death should reach out to authorities at 260-427-1201 for the Fort Wayne Police Detective Bureau; Fort Wayne CrimeStoppers at 260-436-7867; or report an anonymous tip using the P3Tips mobile app.
So I take it that she wasn't reported as missing...
Well, I hope to hear what the investigation reveals about the circumstances of her disappearance!
So I take it that she wasn't reported as missing...
Well, I hope to hear what the investigation reveals about the circumstances of her disappearance!
Same here! Her dad seems to be in shock that she passed away.

Who was the father of the baby?

Loved ones of Fort Wayne woman known as ‘Mary Jane Doe’ for decades want community to know she was loved​

So many people loved her.

That’s what Tabetha Slain Murlin’s family wants people to know about her.

Known for the last three decades as Mary Jane Doe, Murlin was identified last week with the help of DNA and genetic genealogy. Murlin would have been 23 years old when a contractor found her wrapped in a blanket in the basement of a home on Reynolds Drive.

At the time of her death, she was about 26 weeks pregnant.

Because of standing water in the basement and the unknown time of Murlin’s death, investigators could not determine what her cause or manner of death was. They are now working to learn more about what led up to her death and what could have caused it.

But aside from answers, her family – the siblings raised alongside Tabetha after her biological aunt adopted her – and other loved ones want her to be able to rest in peace.

After the death of their mother, Tabetha wanted to do her own thing, Gorney said. Despite their efforts to keep her close, Tabetha was strong-willed.

“You couldn’t keep her down,” Gorney said.

Tabetha was 18 when married Jerry Murlin in 1987. Murlin, who spoke with members of the Fort Wayne Police Department and Allen County Coroner’s Office, said he and his wife separated in 1989.

The couple never dissolved their marriage. During a press conference releasing Tabetha’s identity, Fort Wayne Police Detective Brian Martin said Murlin is not a suspect in the case.

Because Tabetha was always hard to track down, it wasn’t until 1993 that Gorney became worried about her sister and began looking for her.

“She’d never tell us where she was,” Gorney said.

She figured Tabetha would eventually pop back into their lives, she said. Or maybe she had started a new life somewhere.

After several years of wondering where Tabetha had gone, Gorney said she had a gut feeling that her sister had died.

Shields said she and Gorney would talk about Tabetha on her birthday, wondering where she had ended up. Jones, Gorney and Shields said they spent time searching for Tabetha online but never found a trace of her.

Spencer said she remembers when the Allen County Coroner released photos of a bust created using facial reconstruction and approximation to try to make something in “Mary Jane Doe’s” likeness in an attempt to identify her. The bust, Spencer said, looked nothing like her niece but knowing the pain her family experienced not knowing where Tabetha was, she sympathized with the woman’s family.

Not knowing it was her own, Spencer said she thought to herself, “she has a family that loves her out there.”

Gorney said she doesn’t understand how her sister ended up in the basement of 3512 Reynolds St.

“Did someone wrap her up in that blanket,” Gorney questioned. “Or did she wrap herself up to stay warm?”

As officials continue to investigate the case, anyone with information about Tabetha’s disappearance or death is asked to call the Fort Wayne Police Department Detective Bureau at 260-427-1201 or Crime Stoppers at 260-436-7867. Anonymous tips can be made by using the P3Tip mobile app.
I have to agree with the family, the bust didn’t look like her at all. I’m so thankful we have DNA now!

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