Solving a Decades-Old Mystery: 1980 ‘Disco Dress’ Lake Erie Jane Doe Finally Identified

The Woman Behind the Mystery: How Forensic Science and Dogged Investigation Revealed the Identity of the Woman Found on Lake Erie’s Shore

Megan Ashley
4 min readSep 11, 2023
Disco Dress Photo (Source)

March 30th, 1980, marked a dark day in the history books of Lake Erie, Ohio. That morning, the Sandusky Police responded to a call about a bizarre object floating at the lake’s edge. As they approached Cedar Point, officers realized the gravity of the situation. Backup was requested, and the area was cordoned off from nosy residents. Unfortunately, there is limited information about the discovery.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the Sandusky Police Department found the body of a young woman, aged twenty to thirty, around five feet tall, one hundred and twenty pounds, and wearing what they described as a ‘disco style’ dress slumped at the edge of Lake Erie. The discovery rocked the community, and investigators immediately set about identifying their victim. Unfortunately, this initial piece of the investigation would never come to be. The Sandusky Police did not release the woman’s manner of death, which remains a point of contention.

An autopsy revealed the woman had several broken bones; her femur, pelvis, and jaw