‘Miracle Science’ From Dental Cast Solves Mystery of 1976 Grand Bay Jane Doe

Ada Fritz has now been identified as a cold case murder victim in Alabama.

Verity Partington
3 min readAug 25


Ada in happier times, via NBC15

Authorities in Alabama have been able to close a cold case dating back almost 50 years thanks to a tiny piece of evidence found in a dental impression.

The mystery began in 1976, when the body of a woman was found in Grand Bay by a couple of teenage boys. She had been shot in the back of the head and had her hands removed before being wrapped in trash bags and pushed into the water, Captain Paul Burch of the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office said.

Last year, one of the then-teenagers who discovered the body told FOX10 News it had traumatised him.

“Even though I was 14 years old, it freaked me out that bad. I had to sleep on the floor in my parents’ room,” he recalled.

Meanwhile, with only limited forensic technology available and no leads from witnesses, the case went slowly cold. The body was labelled Grand Bay Jane Doe and — perhaps surprisingly to us now — cremated.

There was a break in 1994 that led to a strong suspect, though. A man named Henderson Williams killed his mother, removed her hands and dumped her body in a body of water just ten miles from where Grand Bay Jane Doe was found.

He was convicted of the crime and went to prison for it, leading detectives to believe he was likely the person who had murdered their Jane Doe, too. However, despite his lengthy sentence, he refused to cooperate and would never confirm whether or not he had links to that case.

Henderson died in 2008, taking his secrets to the grave with him.

However, authorities in Mobile County didn’t want to give up on solving this cold case and recently decided to take a fresh look at it using more modern forensic techniques. Investigator Olivia McCarter wasn’t optimistic that identifiable DNA could be located given that there was no body, no fingerprints and not even any teeth to use as samples, but then a Hail Mary was pulled from an old box of evidence.

Although Jane Doe had no teeth, someone back in 1976 had taken a dental cast of her gums — and it had been kept.



Verity Partington

A writer and author of crime thrillers living in the UK. Partial to books, stationery, papercrafts and walking. You can find her books on Amazon here: https://a