The Unsolved Mystery Of Jeannette DePalma's Death

In early '70s New Jersey, the disappearance of a girl would rock a small township. On August 7, 1972, a 16-year-old teenager named Jeannette DePalma went missing. The teen told her parents that she was headed out to go see a friend (via Morbid Library). She never made it to the friend's, and she was never heard from again. The mystery of her sudden disappearance would turn gruesome just a few weeks later. A dog got a hold of a human arm that it found on a walk, and dumped it near a housing complex. The dog's owner immediately called the police. Investigators searched the area where the dog recovered the arm and finally turned up the source: They found the decomposing body of DePalma with her right arm missing (via My Central Jersey).

Despite the ongoing investigation and reports, no one was ever arrested for her death. Even her cause of death couldn't be determined due to the state of decomposition, and the case went cold.

What happened to Jeannette DePalma?

To date, the case is still unsolved and the mystery of how Jeannette DePalma wound up missing and dead still goes unanswered. However, a lot of speculation would follow her death. Authorities said that DePalma's body was found in a unique position at a location known for transients and occult activity (via Morbid Library). The time period was also the era of the Jesus movement, a revolutionary hippie Christian campaign, in which its followers redefined Christianity to include their own "progressive" ideals and were often part of cults, per Timeline.

Newspapers back then reported that some of the items observed near DePalma's body were cross-like pieces of twigs and branches, but none of that was seen in photos of the crime scene, says Weird NJ. Instead, just big branches and her purse was found. For decades, there were rumors of her death being connected to a satanic ritual. The cliff where she was found, Devil's Teeth, was a rumored cult area. The case managed to have a stronghold on residents because witchcraft was blamed for a murder a few months earlier, per New York Daily News

Ultimately, evidence photos suggested that occult involvement was likely an unfounded or misinterpreted observation. Other explanations that arose as a cause of her death was a possible overdose. DePalma had a high lead level in her body, per Morbid Library. It is also likely that she fell victim to a predator, who wound up dumping her body. Despite a few books written on the case, years later, what caused DePalma's death is still unclear. There hasn't been a concrete lead in decades.