It was Halloween 1969 and St. Petersburg police was called to the scene of a gruesome murder. The body of a woman dressed only in a filmy, green nightgown was discovered neatly wrapped in plastic bags, and concealed in a black, steamer trunk near the parking lot of the Oyster Bar Restaurant.
The footlocker had been left under a tree. She appeared to be in her mid-twenties, measured 5 feet 9 inches and weighed 130 pounds and her dark hair was in rollers. She was lying on her side and had a towel wrapped around her head. She had been dead two to three days, and appeared to have head trauma and might have been strangled. She still had a thin tie around her neck. Further signs of trauma were hard to discern due to the state of decomposition of her body. Her fingerprints, dental records and the trunk were sent to the FBI.
It was determined she had not been raped, but at some point had given birth to a child. Despite her young age, she wore a partial dental plate for her two front teeth and two side teeth. Six other teeth had been extracted. Initially authorities were hopeful that due to her extensive dental work a dentist in the area could help to identify her. She was described as a statuesque brunette with brown eyes. Besides being strangled, she had been beaten around her head and shoulders.
By February 1972, no matches had been made with her fingerprints or dental records, and no witnesses had come forward that could identify her killer. The police then had a sketch of her drawn and published in the local papers in an effort to finally give her a name.
The months and years rolled by and the tall brunette who had been buried in a pauper’s grave at Memorial Park Cemetery in November, 1969, remained a mystery, it was almost as if she had not existed prior to her body being found inside the trunk.
In February 2010, her body was exhumed with the hopes that DNA might finally give her a name. The Oyster Bar the closest business to where she had been found had since been demolished. Sgt. Bill Carlisle, 83 years old and now retired, was present at the exhumation by USF anthropologist, just as he had been when her body was found 41 years earlier.
Fast forward eight years and the Lady in the Trunk remains known only by that name, the one given to her as a daughter, sister, and mother still a secret she took to her grave, as well as the name of the person who put her there.
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