1976 Cold Case Closed: Unraveling the Murder of a Pregnant Teen Found in Suitcases

Boyfriend has been charged with the murder 44 years later

Megan Ashley


Luis Sierra (Source)

On December 20, 1976, passersby, making their way along Interstate Route 80 near the Lehigh River in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, made a harrowing discovery. Underneath the bridge lay three suitcases that had been thrown from the bridge above. When people drew closer, the familiar stench of decomposition permeated their nostrils, and they flagged down the nearest police officer.

When officers opened the three suitcases, they recoiled in horror. Inside were the remains of a young woman who had been shot, strangled, dismembered, and dumped in three suitcases. Her body had been heavily mutilated, and the scene was too much for even the most seasoned officers to bear. Heartbreakingly, there wasn’t just one body found in the suitcase, but two.

The body of an unborn baby girl believed to be at nine months gestation was also found. The mother had also suffered sexual trauma before her life was taken. Investigators determined the baby had been removed before the body was sawn into ten pieces. On the left hand of the remains were the letters WSR with a four or a five written in pen, with a four or a seven underneath to the right-hand side. The significance of these letters and numbers remains unknown to this day.

The brutality to which the woman had been subjected made investigators’ stomachs churn. Whoever had done this to her had removed her ears, nose, and breasts in a bid to slow down the identification process. This level of brutality signaled to investigators that whoever was responsible likely knew the victim and was ‘extremely angry’ with them. The case garnered state-wide attention as residents were horrified to learn what had happened in their quiet community.

Despite garnering wide-scale attention, nobody came forward to claim her. In the absence of a name, the woman was dubbed ‘Beth Doe,’ and she and her unborn baby were buried in Pennsylvania. As the years passed, investigators continued to keep her case alive, but without any leads, it proved difficult. With the advent of the internet, Beth Doe’s case was picked up once more thanks to internet sleuths.