Following last week's big, slightly spooky non-ghost story involving the discovery of a tiny coffin with the approximately 145-year-old corpse of a well-preserved, approximately three-year-old girl inside under a home on Lone Mountain, plans for a reburial have been made, right here in Colma, on Saturday, June 4. But the intrigue inherent in the story itself has, as the East Bay Times reports, inspired a number of investigators and scientists to come forward to offer their pro bono assistance in tracing the girl's identity, and in analyzing hair samples for DNA and other evidence.
Retired policeman Steven Sederwall, now a private investigator, tells the paper that he's already got a "strong possible" match, but he mentions an "infant" who fits the description of the dead girl, who's now been nicknamed Miranda Eve. But the key piece of the puzzle will be locating a burial map from sometime during the active life of the former Odd Fellows' Cemetery where she would have been buried, sometime between 1860 and 1890 a time when Lone Mountain and the Inner Richmond was a fairly remote and undeveloped part of the city. All (or most) of the 26,000 inhabitants of the cemetery were disinterred in the 1930s and relocated to a common burial plot in Colma, near where the little girl will be reburied.
You know that the genealogically obsessed who had relatives in San Francisco have been putting in some hours on this case, too, and the Chronicle reports that "many people" have sent in possible names for the girl via Elissa Davey of the Garden of Innocence the San Diego-based charity that arranges burials for abandoned children which stepped in to help with the case. The property owner who found the coffin during a renovation, when workers were digging under the concrete slab of her garage, was shocked to find out that a local reburial could cost her thousands of dollars, but since then Davey arranged to have money donated by the Odd Fellows organization.
One big obstacle: It's likely that any burial records for the former cemetery were destroyed in the 1906 fire following the Great Earthquake. But maybe, somewhere, there still is a useful one that can be compared to the current parcel map of the neighborhood and lead to a clue. Also, this girl's family was clearly one of means who likely left behind many records of their own her coffin, apparently given an airtight seal by a handy coffin-maker, was made of lead, bronze, and glass, and she was apparently thoroughly embalmed.
UC Davis anthropology Professor Jelmer Eerkens tells both papers he's excited to find out whatever he can from ten strands of the girl's hair, which he'll be testing in the coming weeks for things like medicines she may have received prior to her death, what she ate, and where she might have come from San Francisco or elsewhere based on isotope signatures that come from drinking water in different locations.
Of course the case of Miranda Eve, or whatever her name will turn out to be, only highlights the poor job that the city did in emptying the cemeteries to create new developable land in the Inner Richmond, and as Sederwall says to the East Bay Times, "I have a strong suspicion there's more bodies out there."
Like I said, Lone Mountain residents, please do not ignore moving dining chairs or children staring into staticky television sets.