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Her name is Patricia Meleady Newsom

Updated: Mar 10

"A puzzle piece is a symbol for life in many ways. It is a reminder that even when we feel like we are missing something, or not quite fitting in, it is important to remember that every piece of the puzzle matters." That is the best example of this story. A young girl lost all while her sister MaryAnn was always searching for her around every corner. Although some of the puzzle is complete there is still many more questions that need answering.

I want thank MaryAnn Collette, sister of Patricia Newsom for allowing me to share her story. May things have come together for MaryAnn but justice is not one of them. Hope is not lost though, because someone, somewhere knows what happened to her sister.

Patricia Newsom at age 14

Patricia Meleady "Trisha" Newsom was born on June 20, 1957, to her parents Don and Betty Newsom. Don and Betty married in 1951 in their early twenties in Philadelphia. They quickly began a family, John, Patricia, Peter, and Maryann. Due to Don’s job the family moved frequently along the East Coast. In 1968 tragedy would strike the family when Betty was diagnosed with cancer and would shortly pass. After this devasting blow, the kids were shuffled between multiple family members. Don was trying to figure out his way in the world now as a widower and single father of four. Patricia lived with her aunt (mother’s sister) in Ohio for a short time.

MaryAnn, Peter & Patricia

In 1970 Don met much younger Mary Ann Wigmore. She was not immediately welcomed in the Newsom household, especially with the older children, John, and Patricia. Nevertheless, Mary Wigmore and Don married and within a year James Newsom would be born. The year following the Newsom family moved to Morganville, New Jersey. This move was based on a job opportunity Don had. This move would create much tension in the home. The children were ripped away from Betty’s family in Pennsylvania. Being around Betty’s family made it easier to heal from her passing but now the children had no one to turn to and were completely uprooted into new lives.

Patricia Newsom

By 1973 Mary, Don’s new wife, may have come to the realization that she was not cut out to be a mother to all of these children. She may have been in over her head. John, the oldest, was no longer living with the family but Patricia was next in line in the household. Tension grew between the teen and her new stepmother. Patricia and Mary did not get along at all and because of this Mary had to think of a way to not deal with Patricia. That year in 1973 Mary would make a decision that surrounds the mystery of the name Patricia Newsom. Patricia was sent to a boarding school, leaving the family home, never to be seen again.

In 1977 Mary and Don separated, officially divorcing in 1979. This split left MaryAnn and their son James to be raised by Mary. Mary moved them to Ocean City, New Jersey while Don met someone new and moved on from the family he once knew. In 1980 Don was diagnosed with cancer and would pass away by the end of that year. Maryann thought of her older sister Patricia often and always wondered when she would see her beautiful face again. Year after year, those thoughts would fade but never diminishing. MaryAnn’s stepmother never allowed her to speak of her sister, also as if she never existed and this is how she was raised into adulthood, never forgetting about her sister.

It was on August 16, 1975, in East Haven Connecticut a truck driver was making his frequent deliveries to Bradlees Department Store. It was approximately 10:00AM when he drove around the backside of the building and noticed something in the drainage ditch just along the property. Curiously he got out of his truck and gave a better look at the object. It was a tarp, wrapped in a cable but it was shaped in human body form. He quickly called the police. When the first officer arrived, he cut a small hole in the tarp just to peer in to get some confirmation as to what was inside. He then saw part of a human leg. The body was transported to the medical examiner’s office.

The area where Jane Doe was discovered

It was the body of a young woman, and it was summarized she had been there from anywhere from two days to a week. Her body was nude and there was nothing with her that would reveal her identity. Her head was wrapped with a towel and covered with plastic. Inside her mouth was a cloth suspected used to gag her. Her hands were tied behind her back as well as her ankles tied together. Her death was ruled a homicide from asphyxia. Without any identifying clues, police put out a description of Jane Doe to the public. Police were optimistic someone would come forward soon with her identity. A composite sketch was created in hopes of boosting the chance of giving her name back. The optimism did not pay off as no one came forward. Months went by with no leads on Jane Doe’s identity and the community took on the responsibility of laying her to rest. Jane Doe was buried in State Street Cemetery in the nearby town of Hamden, Connecticut. The locals and investigators never forgot about East Haven Jane Doe, but it would take fifty years before she would finally be reunited with her family.

In 2021 MaryAnn decided to create the Find Patricia Newsom Facebook page. She turned to the internet to help find a sister that at this point was just a memory to her. She also created a NameUs profile and submitted her DNA to GedMatch. These decisions in quick succession paved a path for a major break.

Facebook page for Patricia

In 2022 East Haven police, officers Joseph Murgo and David Emerman were determined to exhume Jane Doe’s body and extract DNA evidence, in hopes of revealing her identity. They knew the medical examiner kept a pubic bone from 1975 but that the bone did not supply any viable DNA. They soon found out the task would be a difficult one. The cemetery where she was laid to rest was no longer managed and any records were close to nonexistent. Making the exact location of her remains a huge challenge.

Dedicated, they found a local, named Randy. Randy’s family used to run the cemetery and although he couldn’t give any concrete details of where she may have been buried, he was able to lead police to records of others buried there. With that information, Randy would have been able to pinpoint certain rows to where she might be. In their favor was the detail that Jane Doe was buried in a metal casket, this was major because most were laid to rest in wooden ones. Based on this Murgo and his team penetrated the earth bit by bit and based on the sounds that reflected back they would hopefully be able to identify if the casket was metal or wooden. Ultimately finding what they were looking for.

A week later, in the beginning of June, Murgo’s team returned to conduct the exhumation. Only to quickly discover they had the wrong casket. This was a highly publicized exhumation and was extremely embarrassing to the team. Murgo was not going to stop now however, and the following week brought a member from the United States Department of Agriculture to the location. They used ground penetrating radar to go over the area of interest. They found a plot of interest and were able to dig up the metal casket. Upon opening it they found the paperwork that showed Jane Doe was missing a pubic bone. Finally, the team knew they had the correct remains for testing. The lab was able to develop a DNA profile from the remains. A genealogist named Linda Doyle, a genealogist with The Identifiers (founded by Colleen Fitzpatrick) was able to identify Jane Doe quickly and called Murgo with the news. Now it was time to let MaryAnn know they had found her sister.

In 2023 MaryAnn was living in Tennessee when Jane Doe was identified as Patricia, her sister. Murgo wanted to let her know as soon as he could and was able to connect with Sherriff’s department that drove to MaryAnn’s home and called Murgo back. The team broke the news to her that they had finally found her sister and this part of her journey was now over. In April of 2023 MaryAnn arrived in Connecticut to reunite with Patricia. They held a press conference releasing their findings but hoping to bring others to light.

In 2024 there has been no new information into what happened to Patricia. The last time any family saw her was at the beginning of 1973. Mary, their stepmother, claimed she sent Patricia away to a boarding school in Monticello, New York and that was all she could remember. There was information of Patricia possibly running away with a friend from the same boarding school to where the friend’s family lived, in Maine. However, both of these clues have turned up nothing. Any boarding schools that existed in the area either are no longer in operation, or they no longer have records of the attendees in the 1970’s. With that there is also no name to the face that Patricia may have run away with in 1974. No one has come forward with anything investigators need to find out what happened to her. Patricia was somewhere between 1973 and 1975, most likely in the New England area. Her whereabouts are shrouded in mystery, but hope is still alive, and MaryAnn and investigators are not giving up. Afterall, they solved one piece of the puzzle, they just need the rest to fall into place.

“Everyone carries with them at least one puzzle piece to someone else’s puzzle.”

Anyone with information on the life or death of Patricia Newsom can contact Capt. Joseph Murgo at 

Join the Facebook group set up for seeking justice for Patricia.

Download the flyer, seeking information for Patricia Newsome and share with family and friends. The more people who see her face the better chances of catching her killer.

Patricia Newsom Flyer
Download PDF • 1.77MB

Patricia is now at her final resting place, alongside her mother Betty and her grandparents'.




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