Little Miss “P”

Authorities hope to identify a woman found strangled in Lake Panasoffkee, Florida.

Three police sketches of Little Miss 'P'. One with long hair, one with Medium hair with bangs, and one with hair parted down the middle

Little Miss “P”

Decomposing body found inside of a lake

A body was found in the lake


Lake Panasoffkee lies in the heart of the vast Florida wetlands. Crossing the lake’s eastern shore is Interstate 75, which connects Florida with the rest of the Southeast. On February 19, 1971, two teenagers were hiking along the Interstate, heading north from Tampa, when they noticed the outline of a human form in the shallow water. Authorities retrieved the badly decomposed body of a young woman. She appeared to have been strangled: a man’s size 36 belt was still wrapped around her throat.

Flyer with police sketch of 'P' that reads 'Information Needed'

Flyers were sent around the country

Investigators determined that the woman may have been in her late teens or early twenties. She had no identification and had been dead for approximately three weeks. They were unable to find the killer, nor determine the woman’s identity. No one came forward to claim the body. After six months, the young woman was laid to rest beneath a small metal marker that simply read, “Jane Doe – 1971”

Ten years later, Jamie Adams became the Sheriff of Sumter County. He began to review the department’s unsolved cases, and was particularly disturbed by the murder of this young woman:

“It bothered me that this young girl had never been identified. And being a daddy and a granddaddy, I just couldn’t accept the fact that somebody out there couldn’t come forward and let us know who this young girl was. It was something that I had to do and I just feel deeply that it’s a mission that I’ve got to accomplish.”

Search party using shovels to exhume the body of 'P'

Her body was exhumed for clues

A year after he took office, Sheriff Adams officially re-opened the case. He obtained a court order to have the body exhumed. Dr. William Maples, one of the nation’s foremost forensic anthropologists, was brought in to assist with the new investigation:

“The re-examination of the remains, ordered by Sheriff Adams, gave us a piece of information that is crucial. Something that wouldn’t have been known had it not been for Sheriff Adams. And that was that she had orthopedic surgery to her right ankle. This was done by an orthopedic surgeon, who wound a tendon through holes drilled in the bones of the ankle. It is a Watson Jones, or modified Watson Jones technique. The family or the physician may remember this.”

Sheriff Adams next contacted Linda Galeener, a forensic artist renowned for her ability to create accurate composite drawings based on skeletal remains:

“One of the first things we do is get photos of the skulls and it’s important for those to be to scale, the same size of the skull. We use the crime lab to do that. And they bring forth photos of a profile and facial front of the skull. Then an artist will sit down, and we’ll put either tissue paper or some type of matte acetate over it so we can still see the photograph, and draw over it. And we actually plot the tissue depth using charts. And you just mold that face until it comes to life on paper.”

Next, Sheriff Adams asked Linda to create age regression drawings of how the victim might have appeared at the age of twelve and at the age of six. According to Jamie Adams, this technique had never before been used in law enforcement:

“I needed something that would put her back in time, with the hopes that maybe a school teacher, a Sunday School teacher, even a classmate that had gone to school with her would say, ‘Well, she’s in the fifth grade or the first grade that we remember.’”

A doctor holding the right ankle bone of Little Miss P

She had orthopedic surgery on her right ankle

Sheriff Adams has mailed flyers to more than 3,000 law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and Canada. He has contacted hundreds of hospitals, and followed up hundreds of leads. Still, the identity of Little Miss Panasoffkee remains a mystery.

The young woman was 5’2” tall, weighed about 100 pounds and was approximately 20 years old. In addition to the “Watson Jones” surgical technique that had been performed on her ankle, the young woman had extensive dental work, including crowns, caps and fillings. The examination also revealed that she had given birth to at least one child. These clues suggest that the victim was well cared for and may have left a family behind.

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season five with Robert Stack and in season five with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.



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