Please note: On June 15, 2022 Princess Doe was identified as Dawn Olanick, 17, of West Babylon, New York. Arthur Kinlaw was charged with her murder. The information in this article has theories made pre-identification.
On one of my many trips to the eastern portion of the state, I jumped across the border to Cedar Ridge Cemetery, located on the outskirts of Blairstown, New Jersey. Although it is only a short distance from New York City, Blairstown holds the feeling of small-town America. As I drove slowly through town I had a feeling I had been there before, yet I knew this was my first visit. I would later discover the reason it looked familiar – the beginning of the original Friday the 13th movie was filmed here.
But the famous movie was not the reason for my visit. I arrived at Cedar Ridge Cemetery to pay my respects to a girl known merely as Princess Doe. I walked slowly to her resting place on the eastern edge of the cemetery. The first time I stopped to pay my respects, it was merely a simple stone. In the years since, it has become a memorial to her as people remember the unknown girl that was discovered a short distance away from where she rests beneath a canopy of leaves.
The sad story of Princess Doe begins July 15, 1982, when maintenance workers at Cedar Ridge Cemetery discovered the body of an unidentified young lady. Her body had been dumped over the bank on the southeastern corner of the cemetery. The young lady had been savagely beaten with a blunt object that was never recovered. The workers who discovered her were not positive the body was a male or female. It is believed she had been deceased between one and three weeks before she was discovered. Due to the time between her death and the gruesome discovery, the identity of the young lady was, and still remains, a mystery. Note: Although it is believed by most that she had been dead for a couple weeks, there was one witness who stated the unknown girl had been in Blairstown a couple days before her body was discovered. While the witness recognized the girl due to the dress she wore, the witness was not able to provide any further information. If this sighting is accurate, then she had been deceased for only a day or two at most.
Unlike other John and Jane Does, Princess Doe was given the name because local policeman Eric Kranz felt she was somebody’s princess and should not be forgotten. The town did not want her to be buried in a Potter’s Field, so money was raised and she was buried on January 22, 1983 roughly a hundred yards from where her body had been discovered. On a sad note, on June 30, 1983, Princess Doe was the first person entered into the FBI’s computerized database of unidentified deceased persons.
While her identity remains a mystery, some clues do exist that may one day help identify her. She was a little over five feet tall and it was estimated she weighed around one hundred and ten pounds. Her age range is believed to be between fourteen and eighteen years old. She was Caucasian, had shoulder-length brown hair and was wearing a red V-neck pullover with a red, white and blue print wraparound skirt. Princess Doe had no obvious surgical scars, birth marks or tattoos and it was determined she was not pregnant, nor had she ever given birth. Both ears were pierced, with her left ear being double-pierced, but she wore no earrings at the time her body was discovered, but she was wearing a gold chain with tiny white beads and a 14-karat gold cross on it. Note: I want to make note that a couple of places state her cross was a rosary – this is not correct it is definitely not a rosary in the picture released by the police.
A piece of information that was included when she was found was the fact she only had the fingernails of her right hand painted a shade of red. The nails on the left hand were not painted. Note: Something that pops into my mind is I wonder if she was left-handed? I know I’m right handed and (if I painted my nails) I would think to do the ones on the left hand before doing the ones on the right hand. Was she was in the process of painting her nails? Had she only completed painting the nails on her right hand when abducted? I’m not sure if it is or isn’t the case, but it’s just a thought that I haven’t seen in any of the articles I’ve read.
The identity of the girl has yet to be determined, though many have made it their goal to solve the identity of Princess Doe.
One of the most popular theories for years was Princess Doe was Diana Dye, who disappeared from California in 1979. Looking at the pictures of the two, I can see why it was thought Princess Doe and Diana Dye were one and the same. It would not be until 2003, with the advances in DNA testing that Diana was ruled out as Princess Doe’s identity.
In 1998 the case made news when Donna Kinlaw, wife of Arthur Kinlaw, who ran a prostitution ring and is currently serving time in prison, had beaten to death a young girl, who was one of his prostitutes, in a New Jersey cemetery. Donna, whose testimony has changed on each telling, claimed she was present when the murder took place but remained silent when he threatened to kill her if she told anybody what had happened. Other times she insists she was not there, but Arthur had taken this girl and later returned without her. According to Donna the girl was definitely from New York, possibly from the Long Island area. While Kinlaw has become a prime suspect, he has never been charged with the crime (or at least I’ve never found reference to him being charged).
Another theory that has put forth was her murderer was somebody local. One name that has been brought up in connection with Princess Doe is John Reese. Reese was from nearby Belvidere, who in August 1987, murdered his neighbor by beating her with a hammer. There was never any information discovered that linked Reese with Princess Doe’s death.
In 2012 tests on samples of her hair and teeth were performed and due to the mineral content in the sample, it is believed that she was born in the United States, possibly Arizona. She lived a transient lifestyle for the ten months before her murder.
While the murder of Princess Doe remains unsolved, the case remains in the minds of many. Her simple stone has become a memorial to a girl that the town has not allowed to be forgotten. Surely she had family somewhere who missed her, but no family has ever stepped forward to identify the body.
I stood there lost in thought. I couldn’t help but wonder who she would have become. Maybe she would have been married and had a family. Maybe she would have been rich and famous. Maybe she would have gone on to solve one of the world’s countless problems. Or maybe she would have lived a simple, quiet life out of the public’s eye.
Sadly, we will never know as her life was brutally cut short.
I said a silent prayer for her before leaving, asking that one day her identity may be discovered, though deep inside I realize that the possibility becomes slimmer with each passing hour. I left her alone, dead among strangers, but eternally watched over by the residents of the community.