Unearthing the Mystery of the Headless Manhattan Jane Doe by Befriending The Monster That Killed Her

Jonathan Harker
5 min readMay 19

In the gritty underbelly of 1970s Times Square, a chilling crime shook New York City. A man going by the name of “Carl Wilson” checked into the Travel Inn Motor Lodge, on 515 West 42nd Street, on November 29th, 1979. The area around Times Square and 42nd Street, known colloquially as “Forty-Deuce” or “the Deuce,” was notorious for its unsavory mix of pornography outlets, grindhouse movie theaters, strip clubs, and street drugs.

Carl Wilson was a tall man in his mid-30s, with a tuft of blondish hair. He had booked room 417 for four days over the weekend. According to the hotel staff, he was an ordinary guest, putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on his door and staying largely unnoticed.

As the weekend wore on, two young women were seen entering room 417. The first, Deedah Goodarzi, was a 23-year-old immigrant from Kuwait, though some sources say Iran. With dark hair, high cheekbones, and a history of using aliases like Jacquelyn Thomas and Sabrina, Goodarzi was an attractive young woman trying to make her way in the city. The other woman, whose name is still unknown, was also in her 20s. Both women were prostitutes, seeking refuge in the warmth of the hotel from the unforgiving New York winter. They had been hired by Wilson.

Peter Vronsky, a true crime author, had the misfortune of crossing paths with Wilson. Staying in the same hotel, Vronsky noticed Wilson leaving the elevator with a suitcase, looking ordinary but noticeably sweating. Wilson’s bag, heavy and hard, bumped against Vronsky’s shin, leaving him with an uncomfortable feeling.

“As he got off the elevator he walked into me as if I was not there — walked through me — bonking me on the knee and shin with a soft-sided bag that felt as if it had bowling balls in it: rounded, hard and heavy.” — Peter Vronsky, recounting his encounter with Richard Cottingham.

Fast forward to December 2nd, the bodies of Goodarzi and the unidentified woman were discovered in room 417, horribly mutilated. Forensic pathologist Dr. Louis…

Jonathan Harker

Hey! My name is Jonathan. I’m a true crime writer and podcast producer.