Tennessee Jane Doe


It was March 24, 1976, when a fisherman made a horrifying discovery along the Harpeth River in Tennessee. Lying face down in shallow water, was the body of a teenage girl. She had been dead for less than 24 hours.


The girl's body had washed up against a branch in a rural part of the river near McCrory Creek Road, flanked by tall trees and dense bushes. She was aged between 14 and 18, dressed in a white bra and a pair of jeans, and wearing a rawhide bracelet and a beaded dove necklace. It is uncertain whether the blue blouse found in the water the next day once belonged to her.


An autopsy determined that the girl had drowned, but it was unclear if this had happened accidentally or if she had been murdered. There was bruising on her legs and chest that suggested she could potentially have been held underwater. Tests determined that she had been sexually active only days before, but again it was not clear if this was the result of an assault.


Tucked into the girl's back pocket was a photograph of a young blond boy, with a phone number and the name 'Little Charley' written on the back. Police managed to track down 'Little Charley' - but he wasn't the boy in the picture. He was, in fact, a 24-year-old Nashville man who had seen the girl just 10 days before.


Charles Moore and his brother-in-law, Milton Collins, had picked up the girl and a friend hitchhiking along Interstate 24. The pair said that they had run away from a treatment facility and were heading to Haines City, Florida, about 700 miles away. The girl identified herself as 'Cheryl' or 'Sherry', and said that she had treated for her alcoholism. Her friend was at the facility for suicidal tendencies, and showed the men the scars on her arms.


Moore and Collins dropped the girls off a the Winchester exit on Interstate 24, around 90 miles away from where the victim was found, and in the opposite direction to where she said she was travelling. Moore was interviewed both at the time and recently, and police do not consider he or Collins as suspects.


Police checked records at numerous facilities, but found no record of any escaped patients. The girl's companion has never been identified.


Though dental information and fingerprints are available in this case, no matches have been made in the national database. Due to the year the girl was found, there is no DNA available for testing. It would be possible to obtain a sample if she were to be exhumed, but because her grave markers have moved over the years, no one is certain where she is buried.

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