SAN JOSE -- They believe her first name was Gail and she was 60 years old, but investigators trying to determine the identity of a homeless woman slain in a brutal sword attack last month ran into numerous dead ends and are now asking for the public's help.
Using an artist and memories from one of the people who knew her best, the Santa Clara County Coroner's Office put together two sketches of Gail -- one as she may have appeared shortly after becoming homeless or after getting cleaned up, and another of Gail not long before her Aug. 13 death.
"She doesn't seem to exist before 2006," said Sgt. Manuel Rey of the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner's Office. "She had some police contacts in Mountain View and San Jose, but before that, nothing."
Rey said they sent her fingerprints "all over the place" with no hits, and the surname Gail gave police and the Valley Medical Center -- Hayden -- drew a blank.
The woman was seen by many who drove or walked past her at one of her favorite haunts on San Carlos Street, and after her death a candlelight vigil drew hundreds to the Walgreens that abuts the sidewalk where she was slain.
The woman was killed in the early evening while sitting on the sidewalk on San Carlos at Meridian Avenue by a man who stabbed her numerous times with a short samurai-style sword. She was pronounced dead at the scene and a short time later, police arrested Marquis Reynolds, a 37-year-old San Jose resident. He
Gail was 5 foot 6, 227 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes that many people have described as "piercing." She was known to frequent spots along San Carlos or Lincoln Avenue, and was in Mountain View around 2006.
Rey said they hope that someone will recall a different last name, and added they want to get media attention in areas where Gail might have been before coming to the South Bay, including Oregon and New York.
"Honestly, she became one of those homeless people that you see but who have been forgotten about," Rey said. "Today's a day of remembrance, I don't know if it's ironic or a coincidence that we're putting this out today. We don't want her to go unremembered."
Anyone who may know Gail's last name or has other information about the case is asked to call the medical examiner's office at 408-793-1900.
Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.