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Grateful Doe, Caledonia Jane: Ask the Question

December 31, 2012

I woke up at three o’clock this morning unable to sleep. Like most people, after tossing and turning I decided to surf the internet hoping something would put me back to sleep. As usual, I found myself looking at the case files of missing people. I find myself fixated on “Caledonia Jane”. Now added to the fixation mix is “Grateful Doe.” Both of these children have gone unidentified for a long time.


Caledonia Jane

I previously wrote a blog post about “Caledonia Jane,” She was the young, teenage girl whose body was found off Route 20 in Caledonia, New York on November 9, 1979. She has never been identified. “Grateful Doe” is a young man, estimated to be somewhere between the ages of 16 and 21. His body was found in a car crash on June 26, 1995 in Emporia, Virginia. He has also never been identified. His story is perplexing.


Grateful “Jason” Doe

On the night between June 25 and June 26, 1995, Michael Eric Hager, 21, was driving from Fairfax, Virginia to his mother’s house in Inman, South Carolina. He had spent the previous days with his fiancé who lived in Fairfax. Before arriving in Fairfax, he had his fiancé had spent a few days in New York. After leaving Fairfax, Hager made a brief stop at his father’s house in Glouster, Virginia. His father was not at home and he called his father to let him know he was on his way to his mother’s house in Iman. He did not mention having anyone with him at the time. However, somewhere in his travels, Hager picked up a passenger. When and where Hager picked up him up is not known, though a neighbor claimed that he saw Hager with someone when he stopped at his father’s house.

In the early morning hours of June 26, 1995, Hager’s van veered off the road and hit a tree. Neither young man was wearing a seatbelt. They were both ejected from the vehicle and died. Hager was quickly identified. The passenger has never been identified.

Neither of Hager’s parents recognized the young man. Depending on the reports you read, the unidentified victim is anywhere from 16 to 25 years old. He was about 5’8” tall and about 170 pounds. He had light hair—probably dark blonde or light brown—dyed red. He is often reported as having “natural red hair” and in his morgue picture he has red hair. However, his real hair is not red. His left ear was pierced, though he had no earring in it at the time and he had a small, homemade, five point star tattoo on his left arm.

star tat

Small star tattoo on Grateful Doe’s left arm

He was wearing a red, tie-dyed t-shirt from the Grateful Dead 1995 Summer Concert Tour. Dressed like most Deadheads, he had on light blue 505 Levi jeans, blue Fila Athletic shoes and two necklaces: one macramé and one beaded.

In his pocket were two ticket stubs to the June 24 and 25, 1995 Grateful Dead concert at the RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The police traced the origin of those tickets and it shows that our unidentified concert goer bought them from a scalper at the concert. The scalper did not remember Grateful Doe. Also in his pocket were four quarters and a yellow disposable lighter. The only possible identifier found on the boy’s body was a note that read, “Jason, Sorry we had to go, see ya around, call me at #914-XXXX . Caroline T. + Caroline O.” From the number is an arrow to Caroline T’s name. A caricature of Jerry Garcia is on the bottom of the note. As far as I know, Caroline T. and Caroline O. have never been identified. Also, the police have released no information on the phone number, except for the 914 exchange.


The note found in Grateful “Jason” Doe’s pocket.

So, we know that Grateful Doe (probably the Jason of the note) went to the 2-day Grateful Dead concert. He dyed his hair red. He most likely bought two necklaces and a t-shirt at the concert. He was broke. He was not planning on attending the next Dead concert because he was headed in the wrong direction. Somewhere between the concert and the crash site, Michael Hager picked him up. Whether he knew Hager or was a hitchhiker is unknown, though it seems likely that he was a hitchhiker because no one has been able to identify him. Then in the early hour mornings of June 26, 1995, Michael Eric Hager drifted off to sleep while driving.


Grateful “Jason” with his red hair and Grateful Dead t-shirt.

Here is what I can’t wrap my puny little brain around; why has no one missed Grateful Doe? Hasn’t anyone asked, “Hey, have you seen Jason?” “Where’s Jason been?” “Why hasn’t Jason been around to pick up his stuff?”

Neither Grateful Doe nor Caledonia Jane had a backpack, a wallet or any personal items. They must have left them somewhere. Even if they were both true drifters, they were young. Someone had to know who they were and missed them. Did someone you go to school with disappear? Have you ever wondered what happened to so-and-so?

I’m going to ask you to look at their pictures. Do they look like someone you used to know?  Could you please tell one other person about them? And maybe there is someone in your life, maybe a long time ago, that just seemed to “disappear.” Maybe you could ask where he or she is. Maybe he just moved out of state. Maybe she bounced around from foster home to foster home. Maybe he is a drifter. Maybe she hated her childhood and doesn’t want to hear from anyone who remotely reminds her of those times. Maybe she is a meth addict living under a bridge. But maybe, and I know it’s a long shot, there is someone waiting for a loved one to return home and hoping you will ask, “Hey, whatever happened to Jason?”

If you have a missing loved one in your life and would like me to write about him or her, please feel free to email me. 

ADDENDUM: Both Caledonia Jane and Jason Doe have been identified.


From → The Unidentified

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