40 Years After Her Murder, ‘Princess Doe’ Has a Name

For four decades, Princess Doe was known only as a girl whose short life ended violently.

Her body had been dumped in a New Jersey cemetery in 1982, where her slender, 5-foot-2-inch framewas partially decomposed by the time a gravedigger found her after spotting a crucifix and chain lying nearby. She had been beaten to death, and was wearing nothing but a red-and-white skirt and blouse.

A year later, she became the first person to be entered into the FBI’s nascent missing-persons database, and her identity had remained one of the country’s most enduring murder mysteries.

On Friday, investigators disclosed that they had finally learned her name: Dawn Olanick. She was 17 when she was killed; a high school junior from Long Island.

A convicted killer, Arthur Kinlaw, had confessed to the crime from prison in 2005, the Warren County prosecutor’s office said. But it was not until this week, after DNA evidence was used to confirm Ms. Olanick’s identity, that Mr. Kinlaw was charged with her murder.

Residents who lived near the cemetery in Blairstown, N.J., had helped to pay for her burial and lovingly maintained her grave. A headstone inscribed with a tender message — “Princess Doe. Missing from home. Dead among strangers. Remembered by all.” — could often be found surrounded by bouquets of flowers.

At the time of her murder, tips flowed in from around the country and world, said Eric Kranz, a retired police lieutenant who was among the first officers to arrive at the cemetery after the body was found July 15, 1982.

“You would have people coming from other states just to visit the grave,” Mr. Kranz said.

“People from Ohio. Nebraska. Texas,” he continued. “It was quite an amazing thing to witness.”

On Friday, Ms. Olanick’s relatives wore photos of the young woman pinned to their chests at a news conference as they thanked law enforcement officials for never giving up. They could not be reached for additional comment.

“They are just gratified that this is over,” Mr. Kranz said in an interview. “Even though it turned out bad, at least they know how it turned out.”

“The whole thing really is kind of haunting,” he added.

Dawn Olanick had been a junior at Connetquot High School in Bohemia, N.Y., when she disappeared from Long Island, where she lived with her mother and sister. She died, officials said, after resisting Mr. Kinlaw’s attempt to lure her into prostitution.

“When she refused, he drove her to New Jersey, where he ultimately killed her,” prosecutors said in a statement.

The news came on the 40th anniversary of the day George Kise, a worker at the Cedar Ridge Cemetery in Blairstown, found Ms. Olanick’s badly beaten body in a wooded area near a steep embankment leading to a stream. She was wearing a skirt and a short-sleeve blouse, but no underwear, socks or stockings, officials said.

Six months later, she was buried in the same cemetery, not far from where she was first found, in a grave Mr. Kise dug.

In 1998, Mr. Kinlaw was charged in New York City with the slaying of a girl who had been found in the East River 14 years earlier. At the time, the New York Police Department said he had been suspected of running a prostitution ring in the Bronx.

He is currently serving a sentence in a New York prison for two unrelated first-degree murders, officials said.

Mr. Kinlaw, prosecutors said, wrote a letter to the authorities in 2005, indicating that he wanted to confess to the murder of a young woman found in Blairstown.

But he could not be charged with the crime until Ms. Olanick was identified, a process that began in 2007, when the Center for Human Identification at the University of North Texas tested her skeletal remains for DNA.

Last year, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children offered financial assistance to have the DNA retested, and conclusive results came back in April.

Matthew Platkin, New Jersey’s acting attorney general, praised investigators’ persistence.

“In New Jersey,” he said, “there is no time limit for justice.”

Mr. Kranz credited the search for Ms. Olanick’s killer with generating early interest in databases dedicated to finding missing children.

“Missing persons weren’t at the top of the list,” he said. “The only ones concerned, mostly, at the time were the people who were missing that person.

“Her life, or her death in this case, was very instrumental in bringing the issue forward.”

Kirsten Noyes contributed research.

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