Elba Soccarras couldn't remember. And Eduardo Ojeda couldn't forget.
The elderly woman, ravaged by Alzheimer's disease, was stripped of the past: her tiny village in Colombia, her only daughter in Brooklyn, her cruel abandonment at a New Jersey mall.
Even her own name remained a mystery.
The tale of a woman being tossed aside like trash gnawed at Ojeda. The police lieutenant took six years to uncover her identity - and now, convinced there are people hiding the truth, he wants justice for Elba.
"Whoever left her there didn't want her identified," Ojeda said.
"They didn't want her traced back to them. You don't do that to a dog."
Soccarras, one of 16 siblings, left rural Villa Nueva in northern Colombia in 1969. She found love in her new home of Brooklyn, and became pregnant. When the father fled, Soccarras raised their girl alone.
The devout Jehovah's Witness supported her family with factory jobs - most in the garment industry, one as a doll-maker.
She and her daughter moved around Brooklyn, struggling to make ends meet over the next two decades. Then Alzheimer's struck the proud immigrant with the always-perfect hair.
By the early 1990s, Soccarras and the daughter were fighting over the girl's boyfriend. Evicted from her apartment, a deteriorating Soccarras moved in with two friends for eight months.
After she was found wandering on the Verrazano Bridge, the couple told Ojeda, they returned Soccarras to her daughter.
On Nov. 2, 1994, an unidentified woman brought Soccarras to the security desk at the Woodbridge Center mall. Soccarras was well-dressed, her hair fixed neatly. She clutched a purse, but carried no identification.
The woman who left her there disappeared. Ojeda believes the sick and helpless Soccarras was dumped as her care became increasingly difficult.
"She had to be somebody's mother, somebody's sister, somebody's daughter," said Ojeda, whose 86-year-old mom is still alive. "She had to have a story."
The woman couldn't recall it - or anything else. No one ever reported "Jane Doe" missing. She went into a New Jersey mental hospital.
Ojeda, of the New Jersey Department of Human Services police, received the cold case in 2003. It wasn't until he brought the story to a New Jersey newspaper last year that he got answers.
The veteran cop was suddenly taking 18 calls a day, most with anonymous tips. Ojeda contacted the Colombian Consulate and federal immigration officials.
The digging paid off. Jane Doe was ID'd last month as Elba Leonor Diaz Soccarras, now 75.
Ojeda located her daughter, now a 36-year-old mother of three. The woman identified Soccarras, but insisted that she believed Soccarras had returned to Colombia after their falling out.
Soccarras will spend the rest of her days in a New Jersey nursing home - a move made possible once she was identified and found eligible for Medicaid. The woman was previously kept in state psychiatric facilities.
The local prosecutor was never asked to probe the incident, mostly because it was unclear if a crime was committed. And the statute of limitations for abandonment is five years.
Ojeda hopes one of his callers still harbors the outrage that gripped him.
"Maybe there's somebody out there thinking, 'I know who did this, and they're a monster,'" Ojeda said. "They need to do something."