The mysterious El Dorado Jane Doe
The body of this unidentified woman was located on July 10, 1991, in El dorado, Arkansas. She had been beaten. Her neck was broken. She had also been shot. The horrifying discovery in Room #121 of the former Whitehall Motel began an investigation that turned far more bizarre than any ordinary homicide case.
Unlike most Jane Doe homicide cases, this particular murder was solved incredibly quickly. Even though her real name was not known (she went by "Mercedes" among friends at the time of her death), the identity of her killer was known immediately. James McAlphin was her ex-boyfriend, and possible pimp. Based on witness accounts and forensic evidence, McAlphin was quickly convicted and locked away.
A witness at the Whitehall motel saw "Mercedes" arrive at the property, where McAlphin had been living temporarily. The man reportedly assaulted the tall blonde woman, beating her and pulling her by her hair before dragging her into Room #121. Once the couple were inside the motel room, at least one witness told police they heard yelling and arguing, which was shortly silenced by a single gunshot. James McAlphin was seen fleeing from the motel room, and the body of his slain former lover was found briefly later.
"Mercedes" had a social security card and other identification showing her name to be Cheryl Ann Wick. When detectives were able to locate whom they believed to be the slain woman's loved ones, they were alarmed to find that the actual Cheryl Ann Wick was alive and well. Her identity had been stolen, presumably while she was working as a stripper in a Minneapolis gentleman's club. The real Cheryl Ann Wick told detectives that she didn't know the woman who called herself "Mercedes." So how did the El Dorado Jane Doe end up with the Minnesota woman's identity?
"Mercedes," aka the El Dorado Jane Doe frequently switched between the names Kelly Carr and Cheryl Ann Wick, depending on where she was living. She also used the name Shannon Wiley. The backstories she told her acquaintances and friends in every new location also varied. At times she told people that she had a child (or two), and that her mother was raising them. Other times, she claimed that she was in the witness protection program, and hiding from "the mafia." Some of her stories went from bizarre to macabre, and have led to possible clues (that have also led detectives nowhere).
"Mercedes" had once claimed to be part of the botched robbery of a big rig driver. She bragged to an acquaintance that the man ended up dead in the incident. Detectives suspect that "Mercedes" may be part of the unidentified duo sought in the unsolved murder of a truck driver. Witnesses in this particular case claimed to see a white blonde woman with a black man around the time of the murder. All of the details appeared to match the story told by the woman police still can't identify.
What can be gathered, and speculated, about this Jane Doe, is that she had lived most of her life under false identities. This leads many to believe that she could have been a child runaway who stayed her life on the underbelly of society -- engaging in prostitution and other criminal elements. It is also known that "Mercedes" lived a spectacularly rough life in the years leading up to her death. It's also known that she had been frequently beaten by the man who ultimately killed her, and she did end up in the hospital multiple times as result of these beatings. Still, she never revealed her true identity, even when in the security and privacy of medical care. Shortly before her death, "Mercedes" was able to break up with McAlphin, but once she was no longer with him he threatened her relentlessly. Had she not gone back to him on that day, there's no telling what her future may have held. Would she have continued stealing identities, or would she have eventually found her way back to her true self?
It should also be noted that her killer, James McAlphin, has recently broken his silence after several years. In 2016, the convicted killer claimed that he knows the true identity of this mysterious Jane Doe. He also claimed that "solving this cold case" would "solve a couple more cold cases." It's hard to trust the words of a man who violently murdered this beautiful, vibrant woman, especially since he has refused to cooperate with detectives for the entirety of the case. His recent claims could be nothing more than a ploy for attention, and it wouldn't be the first time he's tried to use Jane Doe's identity to garner favor. Previously, he told detectives that he knew her identity, but he was seeking in-prison privileges in exchange for the (presumably false) information.
Will we ever learn the identity of the El Dorado Jane Doe?