• Back Road Mysteries Staff

A fifty-two year-old mystery still haunts the memory of West Alton, Missouri

Updated: Apr 18



Replaced in 1994 by a superstructure cable and steel monstrosity in 1994, then original Lewis and Clark bridge off of US Route 67 in Missouri was the only way for St. Charles County commuters to cross Lake Alton in 1968. Just 20-feet wide the bridge, built in 1928, was obsolete long before it was replaced.


Initially a toll bridge, the muddy waters beneath the structure took a toll on the then tiny community of West Alton fifty-two years ago, the body of a small child was found at the base of the bridge, encased in a cheap, back suitcase that was weighted down by four 10-pound exercise weights.

Original Lewis and Clark bridge.

A fisherman hooked the suitcase containing remains while fishing on Lake Alton. The suitcase has two ten-pound barbells inside and two more strapped to the outside, with the entire package bundled in blue clothesline.


The same questions investigators asked in 1968 still remain unanswered. What was her name? Who were her parents? And who would do that to a young child?


2014 computer rendering.

The child was was estimated to be around two to three years old, weighing 35 to 40 pounds with blonde hair and standing approximately two foot and eight inches tall.


One of her front teeth was described as "abnormally large" and she had a small scar above one of her eyes. There were no physical signs of violence on the body but that does not mean foul play did not occur.


The body was wearing only a pair of white underwear when it was recovered.


The West Afton Jane Doe was buried on February, 9th, 1968 in the Oak Grove Cemetery but the body was exhumed in 2015 to extract DNA in an effort to identify the unidentified child, but the DNA extracted was insufficient for profiling.

Given the estimate of her age when the body was found, she would have been born in 1965-66. Since the suitcase was so heavily weighted down and given her estimated weight , it seems likely the suitcase was placed in or near the area where it was found.


Extensive investigations revealed no missing children in the immediate community and it has been theorized someone passing through the area may have taken advantage of the rural setting to dispose of the body. The cause of death remains a mystery although it was ruled a homicide from the outset.


It is no secret that someone is living with a sinister secret. This child needs a name and the persons responsible held accountable.


Additional information on this baffling cold case can be held found at http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/1282ufmo.html


If you have any information about this case, please contact the St. Louis Sheriff’s Department at 636-949-1818 or 3000.





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