Halloween is typically a night for hidden fears to manifest. This usually takes the form of imaginary horrors. People break out their favorite horror movies, dress up as monsters and try to scare each other with ghost stories. But things changed from the fun sort of scary to the much more tragic form in 1981. That date marks Halloween when the corpse of an unknown woman was found in Dixie, Georgia. The body was simply referred to as Jane Doe when police discovered it in a cornfield. It appeared that the unknown woman had been brutally beaten and even stabbed in the stomach. Despite the severity of these two forms of attack, they’re not what would ultimately prove to be her undoing. The then-unknown woman had finally died after being strangled. After she was killed the attacker covered her with some tree limbs and leaves in order to hide them from sight.
The sheer brutality of the attacks made against her created a lot of additional issues with her identification. She’d been severely beaten to the point where it was difficult to know what she would have looked like in her normal state. Police sketch artists would do their best, and a rough approximation of her image was released to the public. The police would include some basic details along with the sketch. This included the fact that she was 5’2″ and weighed 105 lbs. Police estimated that her age was somewhere between 18 and 24. Sadly, the search for her identity was clearly not going to be an easy task. Time went on with no real response from the public. The missing person databases used by police proved equally frustrating. The question of her identity would even persist after her murderer was found. Two years after the murder a traveling fair worker by the name of George Newsome was found with rope that perfectly matched the strangulation wounds on Jane Doe’s neck. It’s easy to imagine that this would finally shed light on the unknown woman’s identity. Newsome’s quick escape from the police prevented that from happening.
The police were once again able to apprehend Newsome in 1983. He admitted to meeting the woman a fair located in Tallahassee, Florida. Newsome refused to comply with any requests to release her name. This silence would continue for five years. During this time the young woman’s grave would simply read “Known only to God” along with the date she died and was buried. George Newsome would eventually die in prison. The murderer would continue to remain silent on the young woman’s identity for the entirety of his five years in prison. It seemed that he’d take that information with him to the grave. Even the most hopeful began to assume that was the case. As time went by the chance of any new leads seemed less and less likely. But everything changed a full 39 years after the initial discovery of the young woman’s remains. Thirty-nine years after the discovery the police would receive a phone call. A friend of someone who’d gone missing 39 years ago had come across an old sketch from the police’s investigation. The sketch was similar enough to her missing friend that she had to inquire about the possibility of a match. This would lead to genetic testing against the friend’s family members. It proved to be a match. And with that the mystery was solved and Cheryl Hammack can rest in peace with her real name instead of the “Jane Doe” moniker.