Harris County Doe
Sex Unknown (Possibly Male)
Race White
Location Harris County, Texas
Found September 1, 1971
Unidentified for 49 years
Postmortem interval 1 week - 1 month
Body condition Decomposed
Age approximation 13-18[1]
Height approximation 5'7
Weight approximation N/A
Cause of death Undetermined (S)1

This case contains graphic content that may not be suitable for all readers.

Harris County Doe was a teenager found dismembered in a body of water in Texas.

Case

The victim's headless and hand-less remains were found in either a drainage ditch or a "bayou" in Texas. The head was never found, making forensic reconstruction extremely complicated. In addition to the dismemberment, the torso was badly decomposed, possibly to the point of being skeletal. The cause of death is undetermined, but a live .22 caliber cartridge was located near the remains. The case has been theorized to be connected to a series of murders known as the Texas Killing Fields murders. Presumed victims Audrey Cook and Donna Prudhomme remained unidentified for several decades and were never reported missing.

Possible identities

He was originally thought to have been Phillip Manning, a 13-year-old boy who had disappeared a few weeks prior to the discovery of the remains. However, Manning turned up alive several decades later in 2007.

Although the remains are listed as belonging to a male in all available sources, some investigators believe that the remains may belong to a female named Rhonda Renee Johnson, who disappeared at age 14 with a friend, Sharon Shaw, in August 1971 and was subsequently found murdered along with Shaw in the same bayou where the torso was located. Reports of the conditions of Johnson's and Shaw's remains vary, but some sources claim that only Johnson's skull was ever located and that Shaw's skull and the rest of her body were located separately in the same bayou. Although the medical examiner who handled this case never considered the possibility that the torso belonged to anything but a male when conducting the autopsy, he later admitted that the remains were so badly decomposed that it couldn't conclusively be proven that the remains were not that of a female.

Sources

Footnotes

  1. There are some discrepancies in the victim's estimated age between sources. NamUs states that the victim was at least 13 and no older than 15, but the Texas Department of Public Safety says that the victim was no younger than 15 and was possibly as old as 18.
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