December 12, 2014
The severed, embalmed head of an unidentified woman is found by a teenager
The victim is approximated to have been around 50 years old at the time of her death; a toxicology report determined she had been taking heart medication for some time leading to her death, suggesting she died due to a heart condition. Her head was found in a wooded area 10 miles from the nearest road leading investigators to believe it had been dumped there intentionally. (Investigators ruled out transportation by animals as the head had been embalmed and would therefore be unpalatable to scavengers, and its distance from the road meant it had not fallen there accidentally.)
As the head was examined, it was found the victim’s eyes had been removed and replaced with red rubber balls. The point of decapitation was noted to have been done with jagged external cuts, though the internal incisions were more precise, called “a rather neat surgical dissection” by pathologist Cyril Wecht.
The current theory is the victim’s head was severed by a black market organ dealer, noting the missing eyes being replaced with rubber balls rather than cotton balls which is the standard for eye donors. The victim’s dental work shows she had quality care until the 1990s, and police hope a dentist may still have records from that time to assist in identifying her. They have also released artist renditions of the victim at the time of her death as well as in her 30s, hoping someone will recognize her as a relative or acquaintance.
Her head was buried in 2015 on the anniversary of its discovery. Her case remains unsolved.
- Morrison, Blake and Bogel-Burroughs, Nicholas. “Special Report: A woman’s severed head was found in the woods. Who is she?” Reuters. November 2, 2017. Accessed: December 12, 2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-bodies-head-specialreport/special-report-a-womans-severed-head-was-found-in-the-woods-who-is-she-idUSKBN1D21B4
- Daley, Elizabeth. “Severed head in Pennsylvania may be linked to body parts market.” Reuters. December 14, 2015. Accessed: December 12, 2018. https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-pennsylvania-head/severed-head-in-pennsylvania-may-be-linked-to-body-parts-market-idUKKBN0TX2F120151214
- “Cops: Embalmed head found 1 year ago may be that of woman with heart ailment.” WPXI. December 14, 2015. Accessed: December 12, 2018. https://www.wpxi.com/news/local/chief-plans-release-more-information-embalmed-head/19165370