Real Name: Unknown
Case: Unidentified Remains/Unsolved Murder
Date: May 13, 1996
Location: Harper's Ferry National Historic Park, West Virginia
CaseEditDetails: On the evening of May 13, 1996, at the Harper's Ferry National Historic Park in Virginia, an off-duty park ranger noticed a steamer trunk on the side of the road near the entrance of the park. Without a radio, she decided to wait until the next morning to report it. Hours later, sheriff's deputy Clark Jackson discovered the trunk and found that there was a large amount of tape around it. He removed the tape and opened the trunk and located a duffel bag inside of it. He unzipped the bag and found another duffel bag. He then unzipped the second one, and found several clothes. He moved the clothes and then saw a human hand and contacted other authorities. Police determined that there was the body of an old man inside the trunk, who was in his sixties or seventies, was wearing only pajama tops, and was extremely emaciated, being 5'7" yet only weighing 111 pounds, was scrawny looking, had stubble and appeared to be unkempt. The fact that he was wearing only pajama tops suggested that he was wheelchair-bound. Large doses of a tranquilizer was discovered in the man's system, and it was determined that he died of strangulation, but also suffered from blunt force trauma to the head. Investigators determined that the man had been dead for about two days, and that his killer dumped him in the park between 8:30pm and 10:30pm on the night of May 13. Police speculated that the man belonged to a private home, convalescent home, and that someone, either a caretaker, relative, nurse or orderly wanted him dead. Authorities believe that he is one of thousands of elderly victims that are killed each year by those who take care of them because they are at the age where they are expected to pass away. They believe that the case may have been a "burden-homicide" where the man's caretaker was tired of caring for him and decide to kill him. Another possibility is that it may have been a murder for profit, and that the killer made sure that they had all of the control over the man's money before they would get rid of him. Police are baffled, however, as to why the trunk was left in the open, just two feet away from an overlook, that if it had gone over the edge, the trunk would have gone into the river and would never be found. Investigators speculated that the killer may have wanted the man to be found, but could not understand why. The most likely theory was that due to its close proximity to a trash can, the killer believed that the trunk would have been picked up by a trash truck and taken to a landfill. However, most murders of the elderly are disguised as death by natural causes, and authorities would not find out about the murder unless an autopsy was done. An autopsy performed on the John Doe was done not only to find out how the man died, but to find who the man may be. The man's dental records and fingerprints were taken, but no matches were found. They did find a micro valve implanted in his heart during a previous surgery with a serial number on it, and authorities hoped to trace the man through it. However, the physician that did the surgery did not fill out the information of the man with the serial number.
Since May of 1996, authorities have been unable to solve the mystery of the John Doe. They say that the victim has a distinctive face and that anybody who knows the victim will recognize him based on the picture of him or composite. However, the man remains unidentified and his killer is still at large.
Suspects: Authorities are certain that once they identify the victim, they will be able to identify his killer. They believe the killer is the man's caretaker.
Results: Solved. In November of 2003, police submitted the John Doe's fingerprints to a database and identified him as 75 year old Jasper F. "Jack" Watkins through his military fingerprint records. Several months after discovering his identity, in August of 2004, authorities arrested Nancy Jean Siegel, who had been hired as his caretaker. She was subsequently charged with murder and mail fraud. In March of 2009, she was convicted of second degree murder-witness tampering, theft of government benefits, identity theft, and mail fraud; she was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
- Slaying suspect portrayed as con woman
- Woman guilty of '96 murder
- Woman Gets 33 Years In Killing
- Jasper Watkins at Find a Grave