A woman known only as Jane Doe was found murdered December 9, 1999 in the Greenbelt Forest Preserve. She had been brutalized prior to her death. The men involved in her death were caught, charged, and either convicted or pled guilty. Despite multiple attempts to identify her , both locally and nationally, she continued to be known only as Jane Doe. Jane Doe waited for her identity and the dignity that comes from being a person again, not just Jane Doe. Jane Doe was finally given a dignified burial July 29, 2005 (having remained in the freezer in the Corner's Office since her death, before I took office).
Early this week an Investigator from Racine County, Wisconsin checking for leads to identify a murder victim killed in their county in 1999 came across a reference to an individual missing from Carpentersville since 1999. This Investigator, Eileen Reilly, knew of our Jane Doe because of her investigating her murdered Jane Doe and called the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force with information that at least in general terms (age in early 30s, height less than 5 foot, etc) the missing woman from Carpentersville seemed similar to our Jane Doe. That information was than shared with our office (Lake County Coroner’s Office). The photo on the Charley Project website really bore limited similarity to our Jane Doe, so while we had some hope we remained uncertain.
When our personnel contacted the Carpentersville Police Department we were told they had a better picture and dental records of their missing woman. Our Chief Deputy, Steve Newton, conferred with Carpentersville Police on Wednesday and took possession of the photo and dental records. That photo looked much more like our Jane Doe would have looked in life. The dental records were an obvious match, assisted by our consulting Forensic Odontologists, Russell Schneider, DDS and Carl Hagstrom, DDS. Jane Doe was finally found to be Mary Kate Sunderlin-Chamizo, a woman previously living in Carpentersville, IL reported as a missing person in October 2000, but missing since September 1999. Mary Kate Sunderlin would have been 41 this year.
We have talked with her family and let them know that their sister has been found albeit deceased. They have expressed their grief at their loss, their relief that their waiting and wondering is over, and their appreciation that someone cared enough to arrange for a proper burial for Mary Kate.