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Jane "Sally" Doe Still Unidentified After 14 Months 

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Old 10-09-2011, 10:12 AM
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Jane "Sally" Doe Still Unidentified After 14 Months

ASHVILLE, Alabama Jane "Sally" Doe spends most of her days at a Blount County nursing home tenderly cuddling her baby doll.

Sometimes she lifts the doll to her breast, gently covering her with a blanket, as if to nurse her.

It is an indication, along with what appears to be a Cesarean section scar, that Sally may be someone's mother. Or was at some point.

It's just a guess, because no one knows for sure. In fact, no one knows anything about Sally, at least not those who have cared for her over the past 14 months.

On Aug. 8, 2010, Sally -- named by the hospital staff -- was found in the waiting area of St. Vincent's East Hospital.

She was wearing a hospital gown, an adult diaper and slipper socks. She had no identification with her, and she couldn't speak.

Not then, and not now.

There are few pieces to the puzzle of Sally, and those charged with taking care of her say they are no closer to the big picture than they were within days of her discovery.

"I never thought we would be here a year later," said Alabama Bureau of Investigation Sgt. Scott Bartle.

"We have a lot of cold cases, and unidentified bodies, but she's got a face, and skin, and a beating heart. I ask myself all the time, 'Where have I failed?'"

"People aren't disposable. She belongs to somebody," Bartle said. "It eats at you. It really does."

Sally was found wandering the waiting area at St. Vincent's East. There were no witnesses to her arrival at the hospital, and security tapes yielded no clues.

At 5 feet 3 inches tall, she weighed less than 90 pounds. She is believed to be between 55 and 60 years old.

Initially it appeared she was a man. Authorities say her short-cropped hair had been recently colored a dark brown or black, and she was wearing large, black-rimmed glasses, possibly in an attempt to disguise her.

She had dentures with the imprint "000 E Allen" but no other clues to a possible identity.

Doctors and nurses in the emergency room diagnosed her with a urinary tract infection and prescribed an antibiotic.

She was dehydrated, malnourished and a choking risk, so she was prescribed liquid meals to be the consistency of honey.

The nursing staff quickly grew fond of her and gave her the name Sally.

Jane Doe, after all, is usually a name given to dead women, and Sally was alive.

Nurses there said she was withdrawn, but after a month in their care began to laugh and play and dole out hugs.

She would dance and wave at passing cars through the window. Someone even tried to teach her how to say, "Roll Tide."

St. Vincent's officials notified the police and social services, and the search for Sally's identity, and next of kin, began.

Throughout September, a series of newspaper articles and television spots ran, but to no avail.

The Alabama Bureau of Investigation got involved and since then, several agents have spent hundreds of man-hours trying to unravel the mystery of Sally.

They took Sally's fingerprints and DNA and compared them with nationwide police and missing persons databases.

They performed facial recognition screenings with age progression and compared those to the National Database of Unidentified Adults.

Bartle and Laura Fulbright, a social worker and program director for the Jefferson-Blount-St. Clair Mental Health Authority, have worked tirelessly. "We talk almost daily," Bartle said.

Investigators and mental health experts have tried various ways to glean information from her, such as giving her a pen and paper to write on.

Suggested names given to her yielded few hints, nor did maps placed in front of her. Her own writing was just lines on paper.

Her appointed guardian, attorney Sid Summey, said they have some reason to believe her name may begin with an E and her last name might begin with a W. He said she has made some response to Evelyn Wade or Evelyn Weaver.

Tips to lawmen led nowhere.

In October 2010, an examiner with the Department of Mental Health evaluated Sally and deemed she appeared to be functioning in the "severe to profound" range of mental retardation. Without an identity, however, the examiner couldn't formally diagnose her.

The Social Security Administration reviewed all of the information but could not match Sally to any of their known cases.

By the end of October, those taking care of Sally started to look for longer-term options.

The hospital staff said Sally was a risk for wandering off and initiated a petition for her commitment to a mental hospital.

Instead, though, she was placed in the Olive Home -- an assisted living facility in Oneonta -- under the sponsorship of the Department of Mental Health.

Summey has also reached out to his friends through Facebook, and his colleagues in the National Guardianship Association and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

"I have never seen anything like it," Summey said. "It completely tugs at my heart. We have 400 wards, and they all have a story. It just makes your heart cry out to find hers."

"You've got lost people, and lists of lost people, but no list of found people," he said.

The National Criminal Information Center's Unidentified Persons File started in 1983 and contains records of unidentified dead people, people of any age who are living and unable to determine their identity, and unidentified catastrophe victims.

In 2010, 216 records were entered into the "unidentified and living" database -- including Sally--and 207 were cleared by the entering agency.

Those close to the case have their theories.

Bartle and Fulbright believe that because of her handicaps, Sally was cared for most of her adult life by her parents, who eventually died.

The person left to take care of her -- perhaps a sister, a brother, a distant cousin -- didn't want to do it, or couldn't.

"Whoever stepped in to take care of her is not doing their job," Fulbright said.

"Somebody, somewhere, is getting her (Social Security) checks," Bartle said.

The hospital gown she was wearing when she arrived at St. Vincent's East didn't match any used in the Birmingham area.

The gown was gray with red trim and a fleur-de-lis print, which is a cultural emblem of the state of Louisiana.

Summey didn't know that until this week, and said they are now checking with Louisiana medical facilities that may have the design on their gowns.

There is also a belief that she may have come from Georgia, or beyond, and simply dropped off at the hospital.

"It's an amazing mystery to speculate what may have happened to her," Summey said.

Amazing, and maddening.

"I get fired up over this case," Bartle said.

"Social workers are into life stories, and she has a life story somewhere," Fulbright said.

"I know how to coordinate her care, but as for everything else about her, I don't know what I'm doing. It's alien."

In May 2011, Sally's health took a turn for the worse. She experienced a rapid, steady decline in her ability to walk and complete her daily living skills.

She is now confined to a wheelchair and has stopped making any attempts to speak.

Doctors have diagnosed her with degenerative dementia, and she has been moved to a nursing home in Ashville.

With no identity, Sally doesn't qualify for Medicaid. Mental health agencies have been footing the bill.

Most of her doctors have been treating her for free, and social services is providing her with her clothes.

Jefferson-Blount-St. Clair Mental Health Authority supports her and oversees her care.

"But for that," her attorney said, "she would be in acute care and the bill would be $2 million."

Fulbright said Sally has never shown any behavioral problems, though she seems to be uncomfortable with, or even agitated by, some men.
She isn't disruptive or challenging in any way.

She has made a new friend at the nursing home and, in the afternoons, they pass their dolls back and forth to each other.

"She is very endearing," she said. "Sweet as pie."

Last week she was admitted again to St. Vincent's East, possibly suffering from pneumonia.

Bartle, Summey, Fulbright and a team of others are undeniably committed to Sally, but they said they know in their hearts there should be more for her.

"She looks at you with those blue eyes, and she's holding that baby doll, and it gets to you," Bartle said.

"We've got a person here starving for love, but we can't find the family that's supposed to love her."

Documenting Reality

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Old 10-09-2011, 11:21 AM
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Re: Jane "Sally" Doe Still Unidentified After 14 Months

Sounds like she deteriorated and her family couldn't be bothered to look after her and dumped her. How horrible.

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Old 10-09-2011, 01:24 PM
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Re: Jane "Sally" Doe Still Unidentified After 14 Months

Poor thing

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Old 10-09-2011, 02:34 PM
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Re: Jane "Sally" Doe Still Unidentified After 14 Months

Stories like this make me sad, but on the up side, she was found by a group of people who do care about her.

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Old 10-10-2011, 07:12 AM
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Re: Jane "Sally" Doe Still Unidentified After 14 Months

Very sad. I hope she stays strong.

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Old 10-10-2011, 07:22 AM
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Re: Jane "Sally" Doe Still Unidentified After 14 Months

Must be someone's bitchy mother in law.

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Old 10-10-2011, 02:16 PM
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Re: Jane "Sally" Doe Still Unidentified After 14 Months

wrong thread

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Old 10-11-2011, 03:48 PM
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Re: Jane "Sally" Doe Still Unidentified After 14 Months


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Old 10-13-2011, 03:31 PM
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Re: Jane "Sally" Doe Still Unidentified After 14 Months

wow. words cant describe how i feel right now...

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Old 10-14-2011, 08:06 AM
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Re: Jane "Sally" Doe Still Unidentified After 14 Months

Originally Posted by chris View Post
I'm going to die alone with only a cat and my collection of books.
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