The Mysterious Case of Penny Doe, The Murder Victim Who Is Still Unidentified

On July 22, 1990, the body of an unidentified woman was found in Clarion County, PA. Despite a thorough investigation, no one could identify the body. Thus began the unsolved case of Penny Doe, one of the most mysterious cold cases in recent history.

Penny Doe, named because of the two pennies that were found in the pockets of her jeans, was never identified. While a few key facts are known, for example that she was a white woman between the ages of 15 and 22, who she was, and just as importantly, who killed her, remain unknown to this day.

Her family may still be out there, wondering what happened to their loved one. Most terrifying, however, is that the killer still at large could have (and still be) killing young women. Unsolved murders like hers are chilling. Do you know who killed Penny Doe? 

Photo: Metaweb / GNU Free Documentation License

  • She May Have Attended An Outdoor Rock Concert Just Before The Murder

    On Memorial Day Weekend, there was a full-day rock concert called Music Alley about 15 miles from where Penny Doe was found. It featured The Stand; Down To The Wire; Lawyers, Guns & Money; BE Taylor; and Cleveland.

    The concert attracted around 5,100 people from Ohio, Pittsburgh, and other areas. While there is no proof Penny Doe attended the concert, it would explain what she was doing in the area, as authorities don’t believe she was from Clarion County, where she was found. 

  • Authorities Received An Anonymous Letter About The Case

    Twelve years after Penny Doe’s body was found, law enforcement received an anonymous letter concerning her case. Despite pleas for the author to provide more information, the writer never got back in touch with the authorities. 

    The contents of the letter have not been released to the public.

  • The Case Name Derives From The Two Pennies Found In Her Pockets

    Because the victim’s real identity was unknown, investigators had to pick a moniker for her. They chose Penny Doe because they found one penny in each of her pockets. Some speculate the pennies were supposed to be a symbolic message from the killer. In Greek mythology, the dead were buried with coins to help pay for their passage across the River Styx.

    Others argue the pennies were simply disregarded by the killer, who may have stolen whatever else was in her pockets.

  • Her Dental Records May Narrow Down Where She Came From

    Penny Doe’s teeth have been described as “perfect.” She had no fillings, and no signs of tooth decay. This could indicate she came from an area with fluoride in the water. It isn’t proof, since good genetics and meticulous personal dental care can also account for undamaged teeth, but it does help narrow things down somewhat. 

  • She Was Beaten To Death

    An autopsy report revealed Penny Doe sustained blunt force trauma to the right side of her skull. Additionally, she had a broken right leg. The blunt force might have caused one of her teeth to chip.

    Police are unsure what exactly was used to beat Penny Doe to death. 

  • Her Body Was Found By Children Out Picking Berries

    Penny Doe’s body was found on July 22, 1990, by two children who were out picking berries in a remote area of the Monroe Township. As they crossed underneath a railroad trestle, the children saw what they thought might be a deer, but when they got closer, they realized it was a dead body lying face down in a muddy stream bed.

    The children's identities are not officially known, but one Redditor claims to have been friends with them.