Boston ‘Baby Doe’ mystery: Pollen tests reveal new break in the case


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While authorities in Massachusetts work to unravel the mystery of a young girl found dead in a trash bag earlier this summer, new tests have revealed that the girl was likely from the local Boston area, police said.

A dog walker found the girl’s body on June 25 on the western shore of Deer Island in Winthrop, a peninsula in Boston Harbor opposite Logan Airport, the Massachusetts State Police said. The girl, who’s estimated to be about 4-years-old, was found with a fleece blanket. She was wrapped in a trash bag.

The girl has been nicknamed “Baby Doe.”

Police say there were no signs of trauma and that toxicology tests found no signs of pathogens or toxins, Massachusetts State Police spokesman Dave Procopio told ABC News.

The girl’s identity and cause and manner of death remain unknown. However, authorities do have a new lead, thanks to pollen samples.

“People collect pollen everywhere they go,” Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, told ABC News. “In this case, where we had a child whose identity we did not know, and whose birthplace we did not know, we collected pollen from evidence at the scene and sent to a government lab.”

“We then presented the results of that testing to experts, who offered their opinions that the pollen was specific to the greater Boston area,” Wark said.

Procopio supports the theory state police developed that the mystery girl is from the local area. He added that investigators have also followed tips from across the U.S. and other countries. Procopio said they’ve likely received thousands of tips overall.

While science tells investigators where the girl may be from, Wark said, “We think it’s going to take someone who knew her to tell us who she was, and that’s really our priority right now.”

Last month, police released a computer-generated composite image of the child that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children prepared in an effort to depict what she may have looked like. The girl was described as having brown eyes and brown hair. Police said she weighed about 30 pounds and stood about 3 feet 6 inches tall.

Police also released images of the leggings she was wearing when discovered, as well as the zebra-striped blanket found with her body.

Items found with the child's body. (Photo: Massachusetts State Police)
Items found with the child’s body. (Photo: Massachusetts State Police)

Wark said it’s unusual for someone to be unidentified for this long.

“From time to time we do come across unidentified remains, sometimes in the water, sometimes in rural or wooded areas. But in most cases they’re identified quite rapidly,” Wark said. “In this particular case we have not had that success. And that’s why we’re trying to reach someone who knew this little girl and encourage them to step forward, identify her and give her the dignity of a burial under her own true name.”

Anyone with information can call the state police at (617) 396-5655.

ABC News contributed to this report.

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