For over four decades, the identity of one Jane Doe Number 40 has gone unsolved. That all changed last week when the SFPD's Homicide Cold Case Unit and Missing Persons Unit announced that "Jane Doe No. 40" was, in fact, a 14-year-old New Jersey girl.
On October 1st, 1976, a man walking his dog near San Francisco’s Lake Merced came across a morose scene: A lifeless hand protruding out of the sand near a filling station by the lake. Though, there still seems to be a bit of murky water around how her body was found; the Chronicle reports that, actually, a young boy was digging for turtle eggs around Lake Merced when he came across her remains.
The SF Chronicle said Judy Gifford's body was found by a young boy looking for turtles and turtle eggs.— 🐾⚾️͏k͏o͏r͏b͏e͏l͏r͏e͏n͏o͏k͏i͏a⚾️🐾 (@KorbelRenoKia) December 15, 2019
Regardless of how her body was discovered, police later found a gold chain with an owl pendant in the victim's pocket ... and not much else. The state of decomposition at the time of her body's discovery only hindered the identification process.
Earlier this year, the two units conducted a joint investigation into the death of Jane Doe #40 – the body found to be the result of a homicide, she having been strangled to death – with hopes of finally identifying the body. Thursday evening, the pair of departments revealed that Jane Doe #40 is Judy Gifford, a teenager hailing from The Garden State, according to the Associated Press.
Through a series of DNA tests, collected photos and dental records, and help from her still-living aunt, Ogee Gifford, investigators were able to determine those reminds some 40 years ago belonged to the asian young woman, who had a missing person cases reported in 2017 by her half-brother, William Shin.
“The necklace she was wearing at the time had an oval shape,” said New Jersey State Police Lieutenant Greco to KPIX. “It was an owl locket type thing and that was found on the body out in San Francisco when they recovered her. And it was on the picture, the 8th-grade picture that Ogee had given us.”
The NJ State Police and Anne Arundel County police worked closely with SFPD during the case, the SFPD thanking them in a press release last week.
“I always wondered what happened to her. My mind is finally at peace. God rest her soul,” Ogee Gifford tells KPIX, she having lent a swab of her own saliva to for investigators to shepherd DNA tests with.
Anyone with more information on Judy Gifford and her untimely passing should contact SFPD's "24 Hour Tip Line" at 1-415-575-4444 or "Text a Tip" – with the message starting with SFPD – to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. Those who choose to lend their help can opt to remain anonymous.
Image: Flickr via 101ABN