After nearly 30 years, a ‘Jane Doe’ murder victim in Bensalem has been identified, police say
Merrybeth Hodgkinson, 31, was found dead in Bensalem in 1995, police said.
The skeletal remains of a body found in the woods of Bensalem nearly 30 years ago have been identified as that of a Bucks County woman who went missing from her home in 1992, police said Tuesday.
Merrybeth Hodgkinson, 31, disappeared after visiting with family in Warminster, according to Bensalem police.
Three years later, the body of an unidentified woman was found unclothed, wrapped in plastic, and abandoned in a wooded area behind a diner on Street Road in Bensalem. For decades, the identity of the victim was a mystery. Investigators were able to determine only that the woman was 35 to 45 years old, was between 4-foot-8 to 5-foot-2 tall, had brown hair, and had given birth at least once.
Clothing found near the body offered a few clues: a blue quilted sleeveless vest, a pink T-shirt with “KPMG Peat Marwick,” and a white T-shirt with “Property of Alcatraz Penitentiary Swim Team, San Francisco.” Investigators also found two crucifixes, one silver and one gold.
After years of genetic testing and genealogy research, investigators developed a DNA profile and identified the corpse as the body of Hodgkinson, who police say worked as an exotic dancer in Lower Bucks County. The connection was made by BODE Technology, a forensics company located in Virginia, which uploaded a DNA profile from the body onto the websites GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA.com in November, police said. With that profile, and additional genetic testing from Hodgkinson’s siblings, the confirmation was made.
How or why Hodgkinson was killed remains unknown, but a coroner ruled in the ‘90s that the cause of death was homicide.
Detectives are asking anyone with information about the case or Hodgkinson’s disappearance to contact Detective Chris McMullin of the Bensalem police at 215-633-3726 or Detective Greg Biedler of the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office at 215-348-6344.