The Allegheny River is pretty in the fall—the colors of the leaves reflect off the water and when the sky is blue, it can look like a picture postcard.
But sometimes all that's pretty from a distance isn't as beautiful up close and under the surface. Sometimes the Allegheny River carries litter, tree limbs and other debris from far upstream.
A worker saw something in the middle of the river channel off Old Freeport Road, near the Fox Chapel Yacht Club in O'Hara Township, on Oct. 23, 2003, that at night looked like garbage. The next day, at approximately 10 a.m., the debris)came closer to shore. At that point, a worker suspected that it might be a body and called 911.
A woman's body, wrapped in a blue blanket and bound with duct tape, was pulled from the river by police officers and firefighters. A white plastic Walmart bag had been placed over her head.
The Army Corps of Engineers determined that the woman's body could have made it through locks and dams as it traveled down the Allegheny and that she might have been dumped in the river as far upstream as New York.
According to investigators, she could have been dead for weeks.
She is described as a white female; 20-45 years old; 5 feet, 3 inches tall; 97 pounds; with blond to light brown, medium-length hair. Her eye color could not be determined.
She had no tattoos, and it could not be determined if she had ever given birth. Her gall bladder had been removed, and she had several scars on her abdomen and one behind her right ear.
Authorities determined she died of a drug overdose, probably heroin. Because of the decomposition of her body, it could not be determined if she had track marks. She also had phenobarbital in her system.
She was wearing Season Ticket blue jeans with an elastic waist, which were available for purchase in Florida and Louisiana, and a lightweight, light-colored (beige/tan), medium-sized Marsh Landing long-sleeved shirt, size medium, which was sold in May department stores. She also wore white ladies panties (size 6); white socks; and Basic Editions black, slip-on shoes, size 7, sold at Kmart.
The woman, along with two other females who also had not been identified—a woman whose body was found at the Waterfront and another found in Wilkinsburg—were buried at Woodruff Memorial Park in North Strabane, Washington County, in June 2009.
If you have any information about this case, contact the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office at 412-350-4800.