Big turnout for Patriot 5K

‘Laundry Lady’ identified?

A look at 30- year- old West Memphis cold case

ralphhardin@gmail.com Longtime local residents with good memories may recall the sad, strange case of an unidentified woman that many referred to as the “Laundry Lady.”

On Sept. 9, 1987, victim was walking along the North Service road of U.S.

Hwy. 61, near the truck stop district of West Memphis, when she was struck by a vehicle. According to reports, the occupants of the vehicle thought they had hit a barrel in the road.

The victim was thrown approximately 150 feet from point of impact.

The Jane Doe was called the “Laundry Lady” because of the contents of the bag she was apparently carrying, found near her body.

The bag contained a bottle of “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific” brand shampoo, a bottle of Downy fabric softener, a box of Tide laundry detergent, a bottle of Vaseline Intensive Care lotion, a toothbrush, toothpaste and some change. It has been hypothesized she was a transient or transitioning her living situation because of the contents.

Described as “45-60 years old, 5 feet, 4 inches tall, and approximately 160 lbs., with brown, curly hair and hazel eyes, with upper and lower dentures,” there were reports that she was possibly last seen leaving either the Nic-Nac Laundry or the attached Nic-Nac bar, located on East Broadway.

Over the years, several leads were followed. According to DoeNetwork. org, a card was found on her body that had a name and number on it. Contacted by investigators, the individual reportedly stated that a week before victim's death, he had given a ride to a person fitting the description of deceased from Nashville to Memphis. He said the woman he gave the ride to told him she was from Phoenix, Arizona, and that her name was “Mary.”

On the day she died, the “Laundry Lady” was wearing a pair of Dakota blue jeans and a red T-shirt with the words “Kawloon Roseburg, Oregon” on the front and “Tiki Room,” along with her undergarments and a pair of beige shoes, size 8M.

For nearly 30 years, the case has gone unresolved.

In the Internet age, a number of missing persons sites have hosted the case file, including WebSleuths.com, Unidentified.Wikia.com and NamUs.gov, the U.S.

Governments National Missing and Unidentified Persons System web site.

However, in the past several days, a number of sites have removed the case file.

According to Jay Fletcher, a frequent forum poster on WebSleuths.com, this is because she has been identified. Similarly, DoeNetwork.org has changed her status to “Identified.” Unidentified. Wikia.com states she was “identified in March 2016,” although no name was provided other than “possibly ‘Mary.’” The case is still listed with the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory.

If identified, next of kin would have been contacted first to confirm identity.

But, with multiple sources indicating that an identification has been made, official word from state law enforcement may be forthcoming.

By Ralph Hardin

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