I was just thinking the other day about the investigation into the long lost identity of the deceased three-year-old girl found mostly preserved, 140 years later, underneath a house on Lone Mountain in May. And the LA Times has just published an update in the tale, though there's still not much new information about who the little girl may have been, and a number of leads including calls from four psychics claiming to know the girl's name have proved fruitless so far.
The girl's tiny, well sealed, metal and glass coffin was discovered during excavation beneath a garage on Rossi Avenue, and is believed to have been part of a family's burial plot in the Odd Fellows' Cemetery, all the inhabitants of which were thought to have been removed in the 1930's and relocated to mass graves in Colma. She was interred in an especially expensive coffin one that would have cost 10 times more than a pine box at the time and she was found with a crown of lavender woven into her hair, with a rosary of eucalyptus seeds at her chest.
The girl's burial has been pegged to the 1870's, and a headstone belonging to a deceased man from the same era was actually discovered less than 100 yards away according to retired LA police detective Steven Sederwall, one of a coalition of volunteer investigators who have been obsessed with the young girl's story.
Since June, when a quick re-burial in Colma was arranged through help from the Odd Fellows' organization and a Southern California-based non-profit that arranges burials for abandoned or identified children, a few details have emerged via DNA testing and further sleuthing.
UC Davis archaeologist Jelmer Eerkens, who took on the case in late May and took hair and follicle samples from the girl's corpse, says that he has so far only been able to sequence the girl's mitochondrial DNA, which shows information on her maternal lineage. He tells the LA Times, "She has a pretty rare type of maternal ancestry. We don’t know a lot about it, but everyone living today, so far, who has this DNA signature is from the British Isles."
Also, testing of her hair concluded that she likely did not die from a sudden accident or quick illness like measles, but more likely experienced weight loss due to "some type of drawn-out disease."
The problem is that exact burial plot records for the cemetery are likely lost to history, with some potentially having been destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire.
Elissa Davey, who founded the non-profit that assisted with the burial, called The Garden of Innocence, now tells the LAT she has nine people each working independently to research the girl's identity, "including Sederwall in Arizona, a man in Seattle, a librarian in Ohio, and an anthropologist in Berkeley."
She calls it a quiet "quest," and the group is determined to solve the mystery somehow, believing that the little girl's story deserves figuring out.
For now, though, she lies beneath a new gravestone under a new given nickname, Miranda Eve, with the epitaph, "If no one grieves, no one will remember." There is room on the stone, however, for more, once they learn it.