‘Every child deserves a name’: Revisiting a 1988 Irondequoit cold case

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IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. A decades-old cold case in Irondequoit is still open and authorities are still looking for answers.

Skeletal remains were found almost 40 years ago behind a home on Bay Knoll Road in Irondequoit. Investigators are still trying to figure out who this person was and what happened to them.

“So it was July 1988,” Irondequoit Police Captain Jessica Franco said. “A 12-year-old boy was playing in his backyard when he discovered the skeletal remains that were buried in a shallow grave.”

These remains belonged to a girl or woman between the ages of 15 and 20 who stood about 5 feet tall.

“So I was digging a hole and after I got down about two feet, I came across some bones,” Rick, who found the bones, said.

She is believed to have died in the late fifties to early sixties, meaning she was most likely buried there before the housing development was even built.

“There was a lot of construction going on at the time and up until this area was developed, it was originally an orchard,” Franco said.

Authorities say there was no trauma found on the bones, but the way they found her remains was unusual.

“They deemed it to be suspicious,” Franco said. “At this point we believe it to be a homicide.”

She currently goes by the name Jane Doe, but the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or NCMEC, is working to change that. It created this facial reconstruction back in 2019.

“One of the ways we can do that is working with a CT scan or photographs of the skull that our artist can use to then apply their skills and their techniques to create a face of what this child may have looked like in life,” NCMEC program manager Carol Schweitzer said.

Not only that, but Irondequoit Police have been working with the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s office and have loaded her DNA into a national database where it is compared to the DNA on file for other missing persons.

“Every child deserves a name,” Schweitzer said. “She deserves to be buried under her birth name and who she was and returned to her family, rightly.”

“The thing that always upset me was whoever’s family she was from, she was never listed as missing,” said former Irondequoit police captain Mark Bonsignore said.

Bonsignore was assigned to the case when the remains were found.

Not knowing much at the beginning, they wanted to make sure everything was handled properly.

“Originally we called in at the RMSC they has some anthropologists that came down to do a dig so everything was handled correctly,” Bonsignore said.

Police suspect her death was a homicide and say the victim, whom they call Jane Doe, was dumped in the area before houses were built.  The medical examiner determined she was killed in the late 50s.

“Being in the sand, he said that was the worst case scenario, being in the sand because everything just washes through, whatever was there,” Bonsignore said.

Dick Pagano remembers when the remains were found next door to his home. His guess as to who she is, is as good as anyone else’s.

“No they haven’t identified her yet, they kinda thought she might have been from out of town though, that’s what I heard,” Pagano said.

To try to identify the victim, the original forensic medical examiner reconstructed the victim’s face out of clay in 1988.

In 2019 the national center of missing and exploited children created a computer rendering with updated technology.

But 35 years after she was found, there are no leads.

“Did it ever bother you when you retired?” Reporter Bekka Fifield asked.

“Always, it’s the only one we never solved,” Bonsignore said.

If you know who she may be or anything about this case, you can send tips to Irondequoit police at tips@irondequoit.gov. And if you’re looking for more information, you can visit the Irondequoit Jane Facebook page here.