The Unsolved Murder of the “Nation River Lady”
Case File Overview
Discovery of the Nation River Lady’s Remains
On May 3, 1975, a farmer found the body of a woman in the Nation River. Her remains were located about 91 m (300 ft) from the Highway 417 bridge near Casselman, Ontario. This location is approximately 60 km (35 mi) east of Ottawa. The unidentified woman is known as the “Nation River Lady.”
View from the bridge
Map of the area where the body was found
Police believe her body was thrown from the westbound lane of the Highway 417 bridge into the Nation River. Initially, blood evidence on the bridge indicated that the Nation River Lady was killed 1 to 4 weeks prior to her discovery. But in 2005 the evidence was reexamined. As a result, her time of death was expanded to as early as the fall of 1974 to a few weeks before her discovery.
The Nation River Lady was Caucasian and 25-50 years old. Also, she was 157 cm (5’2”) to 173 cm (5’8”) and approximately 45 kg (100 lb). She had brown hair dyed a reddish blonde.
She also had some identifying characteristics. For example, she had partial upper and lower dentures. Her toes and finger nails with manicured with pink polish. She had an appendix removal surgical scar.
Her style of dentures was common in southern Ontario and Canada.
The body was partially clothed. In fact, she was only wearing a navy blue body shirt with snaps that closed at the crotch.
Navy blue body shirt
The Nation River Lady was strangled to death with coaxial cable television wire. Also, her hands and feet were bound with men’s neckties. Dishtowels and a cloth were wrapped around her head.
A J-Cloth and a curtain rod runner were also found with her body.
Detailed Evidence Description
Curtain rod runner: was found under the Nation River Lady’s left arm.
Coaxial television cable wire: wire used for cable television hook-ups. The cable is black and lightly speckled with grey paint. It was manufactured in Renfrew, Ontario and distributed in the Ottawa, Hull, Montreal and Brockville areas.
J-Cloth: red and white pattern. Very common.
Irish toast dishtowel: a dishtowel with a traditional Irish toast printed on it. It was manufactured in Ireland and exported to Toronto, Ontario. It was sold in Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal. Freimans Limited department stores carried the dishtowel for $1.39.
Irish toast dishtowel
Flowered dishtowel: a common flowered dishtowel sold in many areas.
Green cloth: no additional information about this cloth.
2) Striped tie with three shades of blue.
3) Tie with a red and white diamond-type pattern.
Blue striped tie
Red and white diamond pattern tie
Case File Theories
Who is the Nation River Lady?
It is unlikely this murder will be solved unless the Nation River Lady is identified.
The police have conducted an extensive investigation. Her DNA and fingerprints are on file, awaiting a match. Authorities are surprised that she has never been reported missing.
One lead came up during the initial investigation. A store clerk in Marmora recalled selling a Canada tie to a couple. The description of the woman matched the Nation River Lady. The store clerk, though, could not recall the date of the sale. With the woman was a man about 163-168 cm tall (or 5’4″ to 5’6″ tall) and around 35 years old.
3-D clay bust
Way said, “When we do the 3D reconstructions, there is a level of subjectivity. What we’re always trying to do is achieve a likeness [so] that someone who would have known her in life may recognize her.”
Forensic anthropologists assisted with the reconstruction. It took roughly 60 hours.
The Government of Ontario has offered a $50,000 reward.
Nation River Lady – Ontario’s Missing Adult Registry case overview
Nation River Lady – OPP case overview
“OPP hopes new 3D portrait helps ID Nation River Lady” – CBC News article
“OPP renew efforts to identify ‘Nation River Lady'” – CTV News Ottawa article