I’ve just recently finished a very interesting, six-episode documentary series on Disney, titled, “Web Of Death” that follow the investigations of online, amateur sleuths who use digital footprints, DNA databases and social media to solve murder cases.  Each episode follows a different sleuth. If you have an interest in crimes, you’ll enjoy the series.  

In episode two, we are introduced to a young woman, who died of blunt-force trauma back in 1954. Two University of Colorado students hiking near Boulder Falls, Colorado, found her naked and battered body, laid next to the rocks, probably for a week. Her face was no longer recognisable. Her body had been damaged by animals. All that remained of her personal belongings were three hairpins. 

Her death made headlines across Colorado at the time. Residents in Boulder donated enough money to give her a Christian funeral and buy her a gravestone, which read, “Jane Doe – April 1954, Age About 20 years”. Dozens stood watch as she was buried in Columbia cemetery. After visiting the cemetery in 1996, a local journalist and historian, Silvia Pettem, became fascinated with ‘Jane Doe,’ after spotting her headstone. She thought to herself, “No one should go to the grave without a name”. Working on the case for 14 years, she scoured newspaper clippings, court records, autopsy report and genealogy sites in hopes of identifying ‘Jane’. She even went on to raise enough money to exhume ‘Jane Doe’s body and extract DNA, and wrote a book about the case, “Someone’s Daughter: In Search of Justice for Jane Doe”. 

In 2009, after a combination of dogged detective work and other fortuitous circumstances ‘Jane Doe’ was finally identified through DNA tests, thus solving one of Colorado’s most enduring mysteries. She turned out to be the oldest of Roy and Eunice Howard’s three girls, Dorothy Gay Howard. She was 18 years old, from Phoenix, Arizona. 

When Dorothy’s last surviving sister was informed, she travelled to Boulder to bid her final farewell to her sister and provide her with a tombstone etched with her name next to the original ‘Jane Doe’ stone. ‘At least people here were kind enough to love her and give her some dignity”, she explained to reporters why she decided to keep Dorothy where she was.

As I was watching the episode, my mind turned to Isaiah 43:1-2, “But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (emphasis mine). God not only knows about us; He knows us by name!

Jesus said to his disciples in Luke 10:20, “…do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven”.

Let our joy, peace and sense of worth derive from the knowledge that God knows us intimately by our name!

Lord, grow our faith in you!

Mark Ng