Manís body discovered in grave of Jane Doe
By Dwayne Bremer
Dec 20, 2013, 19:14
Officials from Mississippi State's forensic anthropology unit exhumed a grave Wednesday at St. Joseph's Cemetery, formerly Rotten Bayou Cemetery.
Medical professionals performing an exhumation of a body at St. Joseph's Cemetery on Wednesday made an unanticipated discovery: The body buried there as Jane Doe was actually a man.
Hancock County Coroner Jim Faulk, Mississippi Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mark LeVaughn and a team of anthropology students from Mississippi State University began exhuming the body early Wednesday morning.
The exhumation was expected to produce the remains of a woman who was killed on Interstate 10 in 1998.
Faulk and other law enforcement officials have speculated that the woman could be Nelda Hardwick, of Lake Charles, who went missing in 1993.
Faulk had previously petitioned Hancock County Circuit Court to exhume the body so that DNA could be collected for future identification.
On Wednesday afternoon, the exhumation team located human remains at a depth of about three feet, LeVaughn said in a letter Friday. The remains, however, were that of a man, with a full set of teeth.
"The casket was nearly totally disintegrated, however, a Tyvek-type shroud covering the casket was intact and totally covered the remains", LeVaughn wrote. "It was immediately apparent that the remains were those of an adult male approximately 6'02 feet in height. Since it was not the remains of the person we anticipated, we immediately covered the grave and replaced the headstone."
LeVaughn said the remains were not disturbed and the grave was carefully restored to its original condition.
Faulk said Friday that finding the wrong body was "disappointing."
He said he was not sure why the grave was marked wrong or who exactly the man buried there is.
Faulk said photos of the original burial and the headstone which named the deceased as "Jane Doe" matched all of the historical data he and others have collected.
"We don't know what happened," he said. "Maybe the headstone got moved or displaced during Katrina."
LeVaughn said the exact grave of Jane Doe may never be known and that future excavation may "lead to the same result."
Faulk said he will continue to try to locate the proper grave and to try to identify the man buried in the current location.
However, he said unless he can positively identify Jane Doe's final resting place, any further identification attempts will not be possible.