Headless, Handless Body Found In 1980 Was Finally Identified Over Four Decades Later

On March 20, 1980, police in Fishkill, New York found a decapitated and handless body. 42 years later, the body was identified as 44-year-old Manhattan woman Anna L. Papalardo-Blake.

October 03, 2022
Anna L. Papalardo-Blake, 44, was last seen leaving work in New York City on March 20, 1980.

On March 20, 1980, police in Fishkill, New York found a decapitated and handless body. 42 years later, the body was identified as 44-year-old Manhattan woman Anna L. Papalardo-Blake.

Photo by: New York State Police

New York State Police

Around 6 p.m. on March 18, 1980, Anna L. Papalardo-Blake, 44, left her job as a receptionist at Vidal Sassoon in New York City — and was never seen again.

Papalardo-Blake’s body was found only two days later, but she wasn’t identified for over 42 more years because her body had been decapitated and her hands had been cut off. Her headless, handless body was found on March 20, 1980 in a green travel trunk near a dumpster at the Hudson View Apartment Complex in Fishkill, New York, which is about 60 miles from where she was last seen in Manhattan, reported Newsweek.

According to New York State Trooper A.J. Hicks, finding a headless corpse wasn’t all that uncommon in 1980. "It's not unique to this victim. Especially at that time, there were several serial killers that, back then, that was their M.O. At the time we didn't have DNA. Forensically, we had a lot of limitations at the time and investigators wouldn't be able to foresee the changes and advancements. They weren't looking to set up investigators in the future," New York State Trooper A.J. Hicks told PEOPLE.

Investigators worked hard to solve the case and looked into hundreds of leads to try to identify the victim and find out the circumstances that surrounded her death, the New York State Police revealed in a statement. The lack of a head and hands made it extremely difficult to solve with the state of 1980s DNA technology. It had a long way to go before it could help with the case.

Now Papalardo-Blake was positively identified by the New York State Police Troop K Major Crimes Unit, using an identifiable DNA sample that was obtained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Investigative Genealogy Team, in partnership with Othram, a private lab that specializes in forensic DNA analysis. The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) provided the funds necessary to solve the case, according to the statement by the New York State Police.

A suspect hasn’t been identified yet in the murder of Papalardo-Blake. If you have any information that might be helpful to solving this crime, contact investigators 845-677-7300. Please reference case #3020974.

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