After 45 Years, 'Beth Doe' finally has a name
The body that had been known as ‘Beth Doe’ was finally identified by familial DNA, over four decades after her murder. Evelyn Colon was just fifteen when she went missing in December 1976, and she was nine months pregnant with her first child.
Evelyn Colon via Pennsylvania State Police
Evelyn and her boyfriend Luis Sierra left her family home after an argument, and once tempers had subsided, her mother went to their home to see how she was. Instead of finding her daughter and Luis, she was met by a neighbour who told her that the couple had moved out.
Weeks later, the Colons received a letter from Evelyn, telling them she’d given birth to a baby boy, they’d moved to Connecticut, and that she would contact them if she needed help. Suspicious, the family gave the letter to police, but reporting her missing wasn’t an option; her letter said she was doing well.
Meanwhile, Evelyn’s body had been discovered by a boy on the 20th of December. Her body had been dissembled and put in three vinyl suitcases, along with the foetus of her baby girl.
The cases had been thrown from the bridge over Lehigh River, Pennsylvania, near Interstate 80, but two of the suitcases never hit the water, and instead landed on the riverbank near the woods. Evelyn had been shot after being killed and parts of her were never found.
Despite a three-hour autopsy, the medical examiner saw that the girl had distinctive markings on her body, including moles and a scar on her heel. She had fillings and there was even writing on her palm from something she’d scrawled, needing to remember.
Missing person reports across the United States and Canada were compared to the body, but none matched the Doe because the girl they were looking for wasn’t in the system.
Beth Doe’s fingerprints were taken and her dental records were noted, but even the FBI couldn’t find a match on its national database. It was impossible to identify the young girl and she was given the name ‘Beth Doe’ and a case number of N3–27244.
Years turned into decades with no sign of Evelyn, and the family had all but given up hope. In an attempt to find his aunt, Luis Colon Jr. signed up to an ancestry site.
“That’s why I thought, if I just do this DNA thing, to go back to my other point, maybe she was always trying to reach us too and she just couldn’t find us,” Luis Colon Jr told PA Homepage.
Beth Doe’s file was kept on Corporal Thomas McAndrew’s desk for years, to remind him to never forget about the young girl without a name.
“This was that one cold case that always gnaws at you and you’re always thinking about simply because we knew she was very young. So you add that on top of she was a mother to be. You know you have a baby girl that didn’t get to live,” the retired corporal told the media.
Beth Doe’s body was exhumed in 2007, to collect further DNA samples and to create a facial recognition to reignite the media attention the case so desperately needed. It would be the DNA and advances in technology that gave her a name and a suspect in her case.
Evelyn’s boyfriend Luis Sierra, who was now 63 years old, was arrested at his home in Ozone Park, New York. He was charged with one count of criminal homicide and taken back to Pennsylvania to appear in court.
During the trial, Sierra’s attorney told the court that the charges should have been dismissed due to a lack of physical evidence. Evelyn’s nephew took the stand to testify, saying that the family never abandoned the search. He told the court that his mother’s dying words were, “I need you to find Evelyn”.
The case is still ongoing and there’s currently no date for the trial to continue, but Sierra remains in Carbon County Prison without bail.
Evelyn’s family have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for memorial services for the young girl and her daughter.