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A plea from the past for ID

RCMP seek help resolving a NV cold case

NORTH Vancouver RCMP are hoping there may be someone who can identify a woman known only as Jane Doe - almost 30 years since her body was pulled from Burrard Inlet.

But unlike most attempts by the RCMP to solicit help from the public, this one came in the form of a story told from the victim's perspective.

"I am grateful for the crane operator at the Burrard Drydock, who was the one to first notice me floating in the water," the story begins on Dec. 12, 1985.

"The provincial coroner told police I had drowned and had only been in the water for a maximum of 48 hours. . . . Nobody reported me missing. I was buried and issued a death certificate under the name Jane Doe, which is the legal name designated to unknown or unidentified females."

The B.C. Coroners Service estimated Doe's age to be between 55 and 70 years old. She stood five feet six inches tall and weighed about 175 pounds. She had grey eyes and brown hair - which had recently been dyed sandy blond. The autopsy revealed she wore dentures, and X-rays confirmed she suffered scoliosis, which likely affected her posture. She was wearing a grey wool hip-length coat, maroon pants, a black blouse, a green wool vest and white wool turtleneck dickie as well as white cotton dress gloves.

"I had a horseshoe pin on me for good luck, a pack of Viscount cigarettes and a lighter in my pocket," she says in the story. "What interests police is the fact that I had the name Bella written in each of my boots. Was this my actual name? Were my boots secondhand?"

As if expecting the big questions won't have answers right away, investigators go on to suggest that the key to the woman's mysterious identity may be locked away in the long-term memory of someone who might have only known her casually or seen her in the neighbourhood.

"Perhaps someone recalls seeing me walking to the grocery store or local bank?" she says.

As the narrative proceeds, the questions it asks become bigger and starker, hinting that foul play could have been a factor.

"How did I end up in North Vancouver, in the water, two weeks before Christmas in 1985? Did I ride the SeaBus to North Vancouver? Was I on the Carol Ship the night before and somehow fell into the water? Or was I pushed?"

North Vancouver RCMP has two officers dedicated to seven unidentified human remains, 22 unsolved homicides and 44 missing persons investigations that have gone cold. The Jane Doe case has been generating the interest they were looking for.

"A lot of people are calling from the public. It really did capture a sense of mystery. It's very sad. We want to be able to identify this person," said Const. Mary-Louise Zadravetz. "It's time to put her to rest."

Anyone with information about the cold case is asked to call Zadravetz at 604-969-7505 or Cpl. Sue Tupper at 604-9697568.