Watch CBS News

"Princess Doe" identified as Long Island teen 40 years after her remains were found in New Jersey cemetery; suspect charged

Will genealogy sites help solve cold cases?
Police hope genealogy sites will help solve more cold cases 02:45

A girl who was dubbed Princess Doe after her remains were found 40 years ago in a New Jersey cemetery has been identified as a Long Island teenager, authorities announced Friday.

Charges have been filed against the man they believe killed Dawn Olanick, 17, of West Babylon, New York, the Warren County, New Jersey, prosecutor's office announced. The suspect, Arthur Kinlaw, 68, is currently serving 20 years to life in Sullivan County, New York, on two first-degree murder convictions.

Kinlaw tried to lure Olanick into prostitution and killed her after she refused, authorities said, according to Lehigh Valley Live. Her remains were found July 25, 1982, in Cedar Ridge Cemetery in Blairstown, in northwestern New Jersey near the Pennsylvania border. Authorities have said she was beaten beyond recognition.

Residents of the area gave her a burial, and she became known as Princess Doe, a name given to her by investigators who sought to identify her. Her burial site contains a gravestone that reads: "Princess Doe. Missing from home. Dead among strangers. Remembered by all."

She was wearing distinct clothing and the nails on her right hand were painted red while her left hand had no nail polish, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.  

Princess Doe's tooth and eyelash were submitted to Astrea Forensics in 2021, for possible DNA extraction. "They are able to extract DNA from samples that are degraded or otherwise would provide no value," said Carol Schweitzer, forensic supervisor at the center. 

The center said DNA testing and investigative genetic genealogy techniques would ultimately identify Princess Doe as Olanick. 

Information about a lawyer who could speak on Kinlaw's behalf about the new charges wasn't immediately available.

Olanick's identity was finally confirmed on April 29, authorities said.

"For 40 years, law enforcement has not given up on Princess Doe," Warren County Prosecutor James Pfeiffer said Friday during a news conference with New Jersey State Police and other law enforcement and assisting agencies.

According to Pfeiffer, Princess Doe was the first unidentified persons case to be entered into NCIC, the National Crime Information Center, by then Director of the FBI, William Webster, on June 30, 1983, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reported.  

"This was a historic moment for missing and unidentified persons that has continued to play a crucial role in investigations since," the center said.

Kinlaw confessed to the Princess Doe slaying in written statements dating to 2005, authorities revealed Friday. But the prosecutor said that determining the victim's identity was crucial to assembling a solid case.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.