[Fox News] ‘Mom-in-the-box’ and daughter identified after decade-long mystery

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A California woman found starved to death on her couch and another decomposed body found under the kitchen table of the same home have been named ten years after police were misled by a changed name and birth year on a driver’s license. 

Monterey Police did not initially suspect foul play in the death of the woman, initially identified as 58-year-old “Francesca Linda Jacobs” by her driver’s license in February 2014, per a news release. According to the Monterey County Weekly, she wore a blue velour pantsuit at the time of her death, and was surrounded by repurposed fast-food drink cups.

But findings in a search of her apartment would confound detectives for a decade. 

In the dining nook, police found the “decomposed remains of another person inside a box” whose cause of death could not be determined. More specifically, the corpse was “mummified, wrapped in plastic, placed in a wooden crate that was wrapped in even more plastic and then placed inside a cardboard box,” per the Weekly.

A handwritten poem found in the woman’s pursue, entitled “Safely Home” and referring to the writer in heaven, indicated that the woman had been preparing for her death. Another handwritten document, entitled “The Last Will and Testament of Francesca Linda Jacobs,” indicated that all of her possessions should be given to her landlord in lieu of rent. 

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It also specified that the woman in the cardboard box belonged to her mother, “Florence Ida Jacobs,” and asked that they be cremated and buried together in a cemetery north of Los Angeles.

But no records predating 1990 could be found for “Francesca Jacobs,” and nearly no background information could be recovered on “Florence Jacobs.” 

Moreover, Francesca’s body appeared much older than the age listed on her driver’s license, and the woman pictured on the license appeared to be a different, older woman.

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Neighbors characterized “Linda” as intensely private and “a little strange,” per the Monterey Weekly. Neither her neighbors nor her landlord had stepped foot in the apartment since she moved in 12 years before her death – they had no inkling of the body stored in her kitchen.

For years, news outlets and police would refer to the unexplained scenario as the “Mom-in-the-Box” case.

Genetic samples from the two women, along with samples from other unidentified victims, were sent to the private Othram lab in Texas in a bid by the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office to solve backlogged cold cases, according to CBS News

The lab determined that the woman who died of starvation was born Linda Rae Jacobs and was born in 1942, making her 12 years older than the age listed on her license. The other body was determined to be her mother, “Ida Florence Jacobs.” With these revelations, detectives could contact the womens’ family members. 

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The analysis also confirmed that there was no foul play in the death of the older woman. 

“The reasons Linda Rae Jacobs assumed a new name or why she would keep her mother’s body in a box under the kitchen table will likely never be known,” police said in their release. 

However, per MPD detectives, a “previous husband” who helped confirm the women’s true identities detailed the “unusually strong life-long bond between [the] daughter and mother.”

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