Rings among few clues in woman's death

Public's aid sought to ID victim

One of the rings on the burned body found Saturday in the Blue Hills Reservation in Quincy. One of the rings on the burned body found Saturday in the Blue Hills Reservation in Quincy.
By Jazmine Ulloa
Globe Correspondent / June 10, 2009
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One ring marks the promise to marry, another the honor of that promise held true. And the last, a 10-karat band with heart-shape settings and three birthstones, is the keepsake of a mother. What once symbolized three joyous stages in a woman's life have become some of the only pieces law enforcement officials have to put together the story of her death.

State Trooper Bruce Tobin responded to a call and found the body of a middle-aged woman doused in gasoline and badly burned Saturday afternoon in the Blue Hills Reservation. The body, which appeared to be that of a 5-foot-tall woman between ages 45 and 55, was still smoldering when it was found and reported at 3:45 p.m. by a hiker in the Quincy section of the Blue Hills.

The Blue Hills are a wooded hiking and recreational area south of Boston, stretching across 7,000 acres from Quincy to Dedham and Milton to Randolph.

The woman's burns were so severe that authorities could not determine when she had been burned or for how long. They could not determine where the burning took place or whether she had been alive, and had it not been for the three gold rings she had on her fingers, they would not have been able to guess her gender.

Authorities also hope the rings will help with her identification. The woman wore a pear-shaped, 14-karat diamond solitaire on the ring finger of her left hand, and a 10-karat gold band with nine gold settings, possibly a wedding ring, on the pinky finger of that hand. She wore a third on her right ring finger, which is often called a mother's ring and which had a ruby, an emerald in the center, and a pink tourmaline.

"The birthstones indicate the possibility that the woman has three children," said David Traub, spokesman for the Norfolk district attorney's office.

A medical examiner also found the woman had a set of upper dentures and a surgically implanted pin in her left heel.

"The body was approximately 1,000 feet down a major trail from a parking lot at Chickatawbut Road, and approximately 200 feet up a minor trail to the left," Tobin said.

Authorities did not publicize the discovery of the body until yesterday because they were checking hospital records and missing persons reports, Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating said. Law enforcement officials are investigating the case as a "suspicious death," although the medical examiner has not yet completed an autopsy, and her death has not been ruled a homicide.

Now authorities are seeking the public's help.

"We are at a stage that we are clearly in need of the public to take the next step," Keating said yesterday at a press conference at his office. "We believe someone out there will know who this person is."

Anyone with information is asked to call State Police at 508-820-2121.