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Headless Woman’s Body Found Drained of Blood and Posed Like a Mannequin in Calif. Vineyard Identified


KGET

Authorities have successfully identified a decapitated woman discovered in a California vineyard almost 13 years ago through DNA testing, officials announced.

The victim, Ada Beth Kaplan, 64, from Canyon Country, California, was found on March 29, 2011, at the Grapevine Vineyard in Arvin, as confirmed by the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Notably, her body was discovered without a head or thumbs, and it appeared to have been deliberately ‘posed,’ according to reports from NBC affiliate KGET in Bakersfield. The body was also drained of blood, detectives said.

Previous attempts to identify the victim proved unsuccessful, with DNA ruling out two missing persons cases from outside the county, as stated in a news release by the sheriff’s office. The postmortem examination determined the cause of death as “undetermined,” and the manner of death was classified as a homicide. Despite exhaustive efforts, the victim, initially referred to as Jane Doe, was laid to rest at Union Cemetery.

In February 2020, the Kern County Coroner’s Office, in collaboration with the DNA Doe Project, successfully identified another Jane Doe from 1980 through genealogy. Building on this success, the DNA Doe Project initiated efforts to construct a genetic profile and family tree for the headless woman found in the vineyard. By July 2023, two family members residing on the East Coast were identified and provided DNA samples for comparison, ultimately leading to the positive identification of the woman as Kaplan.

In 2018, retired detective Ray Pruitt told KGET, “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. I’ve seen some pretty gruesome crime scenes and this was just… it was creepy. Why did they take the time to drain the blood from the body? The crime scene itself was very clean. Honestly it looked like somebody had taken a mannequin, removed the head of the mannequin and posed it on the dirt road.”

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‘This person took their time to pull into this dirt access road, remove the body, place it on the ground, and pose it in what I would consider a sexual manner and wanted the body found like that,” said Pruitt.

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Surprisingly, Kern County detectives learned during interviews with family members that no missing person report had ever been filed for Kaplan. As of now, the coroner’s office has not determined the cause of death, and no suspects have been arrested in connection with the homicide.

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