‘Cherries Doe’ Tattoo Revealed in New York Cold Case That May Be Tied to Gilgo Beach Serial Killer

The only clue was a faded tattoo above her right breast: two red cherries attached to a green stem.

Thirteen years ago, the woman’s dismembered torso washed up on a beach in Mamaroneck, in New York’s Westchester County. She was stuffed in a suitcase. She had no limbs, no head, and no DNA profile. The police dubbed her “Cherries Doe.”

“It was a particularly violent crime which was not something you’d typically see,” Det. Sgt. Mark Gatta told The Daily Beast on Friday. “From what we can tell, it wasn’t a crime of passion per se, it was something that took time and planning.”

Gatta, supervisor of the Mamaroneck Police Department’s Cold Case Unit, released a photo of Cherries’ tattoos this week, ahead of the 13th anniversary of the discovery of her remains.

It’s also a tattoo with a possible link to the Gilgo Beach serial-killer case, which has haunted New York and Long Island for nearly 20 years.

Gatta hopes it will jog someone’s memory or prompt a relative to come forward to submit a DNA sample. Several weeks after Cherries’ torso was found at Harbor Island Park, her legs washed up at the Long Island waterfront property of Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan. Police have since extracted a DNA profile from Cherries but need to run it against a relative’s profile to confirm her identity. They hope advancements in genealogical technology can help.

Gatta said there are no obvious theories for what happened to Cherries.

“At this point it’s wide, wide open,” he said. 

Investigators say they believe the victim was a heavy-set Hispanic or light-skinned black woman, between 35 and 50 years old, about 5’4” to 5’6” tall and weighing 160-200 pounds.

She had been dead for as long as two weeks, the Long Island Press reported in 2011.

Scraps of paper were found in the crevices of the suitcase from a calendar page that said “cinco” and “begin to live.” The suitcase was a model sold only at Walmart.


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