Jane Doe ID'd 28 years after body found at Vacaville construction site

A woman whose body was found during construction of an outlet mall in 1991 has been identified 28 years after her death, Vacaville police said.

Contractors were grading an open field off Nut Tree Road and Burton Drive during construction of the Premium Outlets in April 1991 when they found the body, police said.

Vacaville officers and detectives determined the woman had been dead for two to three weeks. There were no obvious signs of foul play or trauma, and authorities weren’t sure who she was or how she died.

The coroner’s office was unable to identify her, so her death was classified as a “Jane Doe” investigation.

In 1998, her body was exhumed and facial reconstruction was done to try to identify her. That led to an artist’s sketch and a reconstruction model, which was sent to the public in hopes of soliciting tips.

A facial reconstruction model and a artist sketch of the “Jane Doe” in the case.
Vacaville police said the department received leads, but was unable to identify the woman until the end of 2018.

Then, the Cal-DOJ Missing Persons Unit contacted detectives and said it had identified the woman using fingerprint technology. She’s been identified as Cynthia Merkley, also known as Cynthia Bilardi.

Merkley wasn’t reported as a missing person at the time of her death, police said. She was 38 years old when she died and had been estranged from her family for several years.

Detectives are asking for anyone who knew Merkley at the time of her death to come forward and provide information.

“Even after 28 years, detectives never gave up hope that our only ‘Jane Doe’ case would one day be identified. Our hope is that this post will generate new leads for Detectives to look into, to help determine what happened to Cynthia that fateful night back in 1991 that led to her untimely death,” Vacaville police wrote in a Facebook post.

Anyone with information about Merkley or her death is asked to call Detective Andy Polik at 707-469-4814.

This story originally appeared on KCRA.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/vacaville-outlets-body-found-cynthia-merkley-13679213.php.

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