Arvin, California – A breakthrough in a decade-old murder case has led authorities to identify the woman whose decapitated and blood-drained body was found in a vineyard. The Kern County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the body belonged to Ada Beth Kaplan, a 64-year-old woman. The murder scene’s brutality and the killer’s level of comfort have left investigators uneasy, while the circumstances leading to Kaplan’s death and the identity of her killer remain unknown.
The discovery and identification of Kaplan’s body shed light on the complexity of tracing Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, with the involvement of an expert proving vital in the investigation. Despite extensive efforts, the victim had not been reported missing, adding to the mystery surrounding her death. The unsolved case continues to unsettle authorities and the community, as it suggests that the killer or killers may still be at large.
The Kern County Sheriff’s Office recently made a significant breakthrough in a long-standing murder case, unveiling the identity of a woman whose decapitated and blood-drained body was found in a vineyard in Arvin, California. The victim, Ada Beth Kaplan, a 64-year-old woman, was discovered naked, abused, and partially decomposed, making it challenging to determine her identity. The horrific crime scene indicated a deliberate act of violence, as the killer had not only decapitated Kaplan but also removed her thumbs and drained her blood. Adding to the disturbing nature of the crime, the body was positioned in a sexually suggestive pose on a dirt access road.
Despite the clear signs of murder, authorities grappled with identifying the victim. DNA samples collected from the crime scene yielded no matches in any missing persons, crime scene, or convicted persons databases. For nearly ten years, the case went cold until collaboration between the Medical Examiner’s Office and the DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit specializing in using investigative genetic genealogy to identify unidentified bodies, provided a breakthrough. Through multiple DNA matches to distant cousins across eight generations, Kaplan’s rich Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry was discovered. The search then involved sifting through Eastern European records to construct a family tree, ultimately comparing Kaplan’s DNA with that of two potential family members on the East Coast to confirm her identity.
The circumstances leading to Kaplan’s death and the identity of her killer remain elusive. The fact that no missing person report had been filed on Kaplan’s behalf added another layer of mystery to the case. Investigators suspect that Kaplan was killed elsewhere and her body dumped in the vineyard, as she lived approximately 80 miles north of the crime scene.
The unsettling nature of the crime, coupled with the level of comfort exhibited by the killer or killers, continues to haunt those involved in the case. The realization that the perpetrator may still be at large creates an atmosphere of unease within the community. Authorities remain vigilant in their pursuit of leads and justice for Ada Beth Kaplan.