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Unsolved Cases: These Are Among Western PA's Solved Ones

These cases from the Pittsburgh area did not have a happy ending, but finding those missing persons might have brought closure to families.

As early as this July, people in the law enforcement community knew that the remains of Amanda Sue Myers of Pittsburgh had been identified through DNA comparison.

However, it was only about a week ago when Pittsburgh police finally released the news. In July, two separate sources told Patch that Myers had been identified but that police wanted to hold off on releasing information until some interviews had been conducted.

Amanda, who was 22 years old at the time of her death, was last seen alive in Pittsburgh at the end of 1999 but may have been in Florida and Tennessee as late as April 2000. She was not reported missing until 2007, according to the Pennsylvania Missing Persons website. 

Known unofficially as Homestead Jane Doe, Amanda was found deceased on Oct. 3, 2000, in an abandoned railroad tunnel behind the Giant Eagle supermarket at The Waterfront in Homestead Borough. The cause of death was undetermined.

"I've always had a special place in my heart for Homestead Jane Doe," said Nancy Monahan of Penn Hills, who operates the Pennsylvania Missing Persons website. "From an absolute need to find the tunnel, to see where she'd been left, to the funeral at Woodruff Memorial Park with the other two unknown ladies, she's a girl I've always kept close. I always felt, believed, that she was a local girl. The visit to the tunnel convinced me I was right.

"I have a picture of Amanda in my head, left in that dark, filthy place, stripped of everything but a pair of socks, huddled against the elements, cold and alone. It's an image I will likely never be able to dispel, nor do I want to."

Amanda and two other women whose bodies were found in Allegheny County but never identified were buried at Woodruff Memorial in Peters Township on June 10, 2009.

"I'm glad for Amanda's family, that she's been identified and (that) they finally know what happened to her," Monahan said. "I'm also inexplicably saddened that it took so long. In retrospect, she should have been identified years ago. To answer what went wrong—for so long—cannot be answered easily, but there are lessons to be learned here."

Patch has profiled some other missing persons from the western Pennsylvania region who, like Amanda, had been identified after their remains were found.

"There are so many other unidentified souls just here in Pennsylvania: Mr. Bones, Penny Doe, Beth Doe, Publicker Jane Doe, the Boy in the Box, the list goes on ... and on," Monahan said. "Amanda—and the 12 years it took to bring her home—serves as a beacon of hope, a reminder that no matter how long, no matter the missteps and mistakes, it is never too late to reclaim a name and send a loved one home."

Here are nine more among those cases that have been closed, as listed on the Pennsylvania Missing Persons website:

  • Michael "Spider" Mance was last seen alive on June 6, 2008, in the Turtle Creek Borough area. Mance was found deceased on June 25, 2008, in a trailer behind his workplace, not far from where he was last seen alive.
  • Joseph Harris, 17, a Schenley High School student who lived in the Sheraden neighborhood of Pittsburgh, was last seen alive boarding a bus in downtown Pittsburgh on Nov. 11, 2008. Harris was found deceased on Feb. 13, 2009, in the Ohio River near the New Cumberland Locks and Dam in Hancock County, WV.
  • Sidney Akorli, 24, of the North Side of Pittsburgh was found in the Ohio River near Brunot Island on May 12, 2010. Akorli was identified on June 3, 2010, after photos of her distinctive tattoos were released to the public. Foul play is not suspected.

For more information about this and other missing and unidentified person cases, visit the websites for Pennsylvania Missing PersonsNamUs and The Doe Network.

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