EL DORADO, Ark. (KARK/WFLA) — She became known as “El Dorado Jane Doe” — a woman and apparent identity thief found murdered in a hotel room on July 10, 1991 in El Dorado, Arkansas.
Thanks to a recent DNA hit through genealogy, investigators have been able to connect their nearly 30-year El Dorado Jane Doe case to family members in Alabama and Virgina. Important pieces to finally find out who she is.
Capt. Catherine Phillips has flipped through the case binder more times than she can count. “I just don’t see how you can just disappear you know, and nobody know who you are.”
Jane Doe went by the name Mercedes to her friends, but used Cheryl Ann Wick while living in El Dorado. She was believed to have been an exotic dancer.
It wasn’t until she was found shot to death and detectives went to inform Cheryl’s family that they realized it was an alias. She was aslso known to have lived in various states prior to her death.
“She was arrested here for hot checks under a fake name, she went to the hospital and got medical treatment under a fake name,” said Phillips.
Her killer, ex-boyfriend James McAlphin, served 15 years in prison for her death, but for nearly 30 years the identity behind this woman has remained a mystery.
“We had fingerprints, photographs and DNA, and I’m like, ‘Why could we not identify this girl?'”
But a few weeks ago, there was a break in the case when someone suggested sending Jane Doe’s DNA to a genealogist. A match was made.
“I printed out the genealogy chart and it’s 12-feet long.”
Phillips contacted potential family members on Facebook.
“They thought it was bogus at first naturally.”
But now they’re learning about long lost relatives.
“There are a lot of secrets in this closet that have already come out from this DNA.”
While the biggest question remains, who is Jane Doe? Phillips believes they’re closer than ever to finding out.
“We just want to give this family some closure.”
“While they’re making headway with these new found family members, Phillips believes there are still people here locally who may have information that could help them.
If you have any information that may help wrap up this cold case, you’re urged to call El Dorado Police.