December 3rd, 1982. In Moss Point, Mississippi, a young woman was seen around midnight walking along Interstate 10 with a toddler.
She was dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt that was blue, and the toddler had on a white and pink dress with a diaper.
This woman was clearly quite upset as she walked, holding the toddler in her arms. Although several people passing by had stopped to offer help, she insisted she was fine and wouldn’t accept any assistance. She brushed them off and kept walking.
2 days after this sighting of the young woman and toddler, a man who worked as a truck driver called the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department on December 5th.
He said that he had seen something in Dog River. A woman’s body was bobbing face down in the water, with a blue paid shirt and a pair of jeans on.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department came out to investigate what the truck driver had called about, and they started searching the river.
There wasn’t a body floating there, so officers continued down the banks of the river. Suddenly, they spotted something half in the water, half in the thick cover of the weeds.
It was a little girl, wearing a white and pink dress. She was lying face up, and since she was so close to the bridge on Interstate 10, it seemed she had to have been thrown off of it.
An autopsy was carried out on the little girl, and it was determined that she died from drowning, after breathing in some of the river water. Additionally, the little girl had almost been smothered prior to being thrown from the bridge.
She had been in the water for maybe 36 or 48 hours, and because of that, her eyes had gotten so cloudy the color of her eyes was nearly impossible to tell.
It was also revealed after the autopsy that the little girl had to be between 1 and 2 years of age. She had strawberry blonde colored hair that was a little bit curly.
She had been well taken care of, so who could have wanted to hurt her? Was it the woman in plaid witnesses had seen her on the highway with?
While the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department went back to the river to try to find the woman in plaid, who they figured had to be the little girl’s mom, investigators worked to try to identify the little girl.
She was referred to as Baby Jane Doe in the meantime, and also nicknamed Delta Dawn. Despite their best efforts and media attention, nobody came forward to claim or name the little girl.
Deputy Virgil Moore and his wife made sure that she had a proper funeral, and they pooled their money and asked locals to donate so they could pay for her to be buried at the Jackson County Cemetery.
Since they didn’t have a name for her, her headstone read, “Baby Jane. Known Only To God.” It would take 38 years to finally piece together who she really was.
When 2009 came around, Baby Jane Doe was exhumed so that DNA could be taken from her in the hopes of finally identifying her. Her DNA was run through national databases, but at that point in time, there was just no match for her.
Over the years, different drawings of Baby Jane Doe were made in an attempt to have someone come forward and recognize her, but still, there were no leads.
By 2019, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department decided to bring Baby Jane Doe to a company called Othram Inc. that specializes in high tech testing methods.
A kind woman by the name of Catherine Serbousek had offered to fund Othram’s efforts to identify Baby Jane Doe.
Finally, there was a match. On December 4th, 2020, Baby Jane Doe was given her name back. She was identified as Alisha Ann Heinrich.
Alisha and her mom, Gwendolyn Mae Clemons, lived in Kansas City, Missouri. They had vanished together around Thanksgiving of 1982.
November 24th was the last time any of their loved ones had seen them. Allegedly Gwendolyn had packed up and brought Alisha with her to begin a new life in Florida.
She had a boyfriend who went with the two of them, but he shortly came back to Missouri and there was no sign of Gwendolyn or Alisha.
Though this boyfriend of Gwendolyn’s has not been named by authorities, and it has been made known that he passed away, he is considered a suspect.
Gwendolyn remains missing to this day, and while Alisha’s identity has been restored, it still is not known how she ended up dead in the river.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department said in a Facebook post, “Thanks to advances in DNA technology and determined investigators, the little girl who was known only as Baby Jane Doe for 38 years, now has a name.”
“She is Alisha Ann Heinrich and she was 18-months-old when she was found floating in the Escatawpa River on December 5, 1982.”
“Her mother is Gwendolyn Mae Clemons, age 23, and she hasn’t been seen or heard from since she and Alisha disappeared from the Joplin, Missouri area around Thanksgiving, 1982.”
“Our investigators hope the identities will lead to more clues to solve this case. It remains open and active.”
“We are asking any law enforcement agency that may have found an unidentified body matching Gwen’s description to please contact us.”
“The investigators are also working closely with family members, hoping to determine who killed Alisha and what happened to Gwen. Anyone with information on this case is asked to call 228-769-3063.”