The Jeanette DePalma Case

Image via Weird NJ

Image via Weird NJ

Cadynce Harmon, Writer

Interest in unsolved cases spreads fairly quickly. Everyone begins to wonder: “Who did it?” They try to figure it out for themselves, which leads to the formation of a few local theories. The death of Janette DePalma is a tragic and puzzling case, and it still has yet to be solved. 

Jeanette DePalma was born on August 7, 1956 in Jersey City, New Jersey. She was found dead in the woods in Springfield Township, Pennsylvania in 1972 at the age of 16 when a dog brought her decomposed forearm to his owners. The dog prompted local police to investigate, and they found DePalma’s body not long after. For years her murder has been seen as a sacrifice for a ritual, but now investigations are not too sure. 

The area where her body was found was covered in occult symbols, leading people to believe that her body was resting on a makeshift altar. Rumors began to spread, and it was concluded that she was in fact a human sacrifice. Many locals believe that she had provoked a group of devil-worshiping teens at her school. She was a part of an outreach group that would evangelize to other students about finding faith in Christ. Due to a flood, much of the evidence for this case has been destroyed, not allowing the investigators to determine her cause of death. Their uncertainty is also due to the amount of decomposition undergone by DePalma’s body.

Here’s where it gets confusing. Weird NJ, a conspiratorial travel guide, decided to take matters into their own hands. They began their own investigation, but immediately faced resistance from the police, who got fairly defensive and claimed that all of the evidence was destroyed in 1999. However, after a decade Weird NJ finally acquired copies of Jeanette DePalma’s murder case. The file included crime scene photos that were previously described by the police as “missing.” Weird NJ has made it clear that they are confident that there were no occult activities involved in DePalma’s death. The symbols of “crosses” and “halos of stones” were nowhere to be found in the photos. There were also rumors of animal sacrifices that were also absent from the photos. There were no arrows engraved in trees nor was there a sacrificial altar to be found.  

What is recorded, however, is the absence of DePalma’s purse. Her belongings, consisting of Marcal tissues, a Vicks inhaler, a small compact, lipstick, a comb, a key on a keyring, and a “clear vial with an unknown substance resembling a Coricidin bottle,”  were dumped out approximately eight feet south of her remains. However, her purse was never found and neither was her wallet nor the cross necklace she wore daily. This release is a huge deal for friends and family, maybe even providing them with a little bit of relief. They now know that their loved one was not a human sacrifice, but with this knowledge arises so many new questions:

How did the police and detectives working the case see any signs of occult practice when it was obviously randomly sorted twigs? Was her necklace stolen from her body after her death, and if so, why? Why did the police insist that all evidence was destroyed when in reality there were copies? These questions have yet to be answered, but someday the truth will arise.