The anniversary of an especially tragic event is coming up in Texas this year. At the request of some interested readers, we're passing along some information about an incident that occurred now 38 years ago and remains unresolved. Some readers may be old enough to remember this story.
On Halloween Night, 1980; at around 6:30 PM, a pretty young woman with sandy brown hair got out of a blue '74 Chevy Caprice at a truck stop near Huntsville, Texas with an unidentified man and asked directions to a state prison facility. She stated that she was from around the Rockport/Aransas Pass area. (This is just north of Corpus Christi). Almost 12 hours later, she was found dead off I-45 near Huntsville by a passing trucker. She had been murdered. Here is the summary from the Walker County Sheriffs Office, circa 2006:
The victim's body was dumped on side of I-45 north, 2 miles north of Huntsville, TX.
The general condition of the body and her overall health and nutrition indicated she had probably come from a middle class home. There were no distinguishing marks or any identification with the body.
When the murder became known through media accounts, several people came forward and said theyd seen a teenager matching her description the day before her body was found.
A witness identified the victim as a girl who had been at the South End Gulf station around 6:30 p.m. Halloween night asking for directions to the Ellis prison unit. She had been wearing blue jeans, a yellow pullover sweater with big pockets that hung below her waist, and she was carrying high-heeled sandals in her hand. To the best of his recollection, she had been let out of a 1973 or 74 blue Chevrolet, possibly a Caprice, with a lighter colored top, which was being driven by a white male. She looked disheveled like she had been traveling and perhaps sleeping in her clothes.
She left the station, walking north on Sam Houston avenue. A waitress working at the Hitchin Post truck stop out on Interstate 45 said the girl came into the restaurant the same evening and again, asked for directions to the Ellis Unit, saying she had a friend there. A map was drawn for her and she departed. The waitress asked the girl how old she was and the girl responded 19. The witness claimed that was an obvious lie and she then asked her if her parents knew where she was. The young girl replied, "Who cares". The witness then stated she asked her where she was from. The girl replied Aransas Pass/Rockport, TX area. It has not been verified that the girl was the unidentified victim. "
She is currently still known only as 'Walker County Jane Doe.' The case has never been solved, though in 1999 she was exhumed to recover DNA samples. In 2015, the case was officially reopened. Here are some of the better reconstructions of how she looked in life:
I don't know the source of this next one, but it appears to have been a profile based from one of her autopsy photos:
The general consensus today is that she was about 15 years old. She was 5-6 and slender, about 105-110 lbs., according to the autopsy report. She had a distinguishing scar about 1 1/2 inches long next to her right eyebrow and another scar on her right elbow. It's determined that, although a runaway, she probably came from a middle-class home and had access to hygiene. Her hair was styled and her nails were painted. She also had pierced ears.
After her case was reopened in 2015, a citizen produced a Polaroid photo taken in April 1980 at a motel in Beeville, Texas.
The girl on the right is the informant's sister who was then 12 years old. The other girl, whose name was 'Kathy' or 'Katie' was a friend whom she met at the motel. Kathy told the other girl that she was a runaway from Corpus Christi, and staying with some friends at the motel. She also mentioned planning to visit a friend in prison. The picture was taken after the girls had been swimming, but a close-up shows a remarkable resemblance, possibly including the scar near the eye:
This girl is also unidentified, but there's a fairly good chance she and the 'Jane Doe' are one and the same.
As to the circumstances of the murder, they were horrible. She died of ligature strangulation after being beaten badly, even bitten, and violently raped with a blunt object. Her time of death was estimated at 3 A.M. Except for her necklace and shoes, she was found naked and lying face-down near a watershed.
Several theories have circulated as to the perpetrators of the crime. The author of the Facebook page dedicated to identifying her believes it was a passing trucker. Some commenters there have made a good case that the couple with whom she lived were responsible (their whereabouts are unknown and they've never come forward). Another recently suggested, based on the time and date of the killing, that it may have been a cultish ritual murder. Police have theorized that it also could have been a Lesbian/homosexual attack. There were known serial killers active in the area then, but none fit the modus operandi; or have been ruled out for other reasons. An interesting corollary to the cult and serial killer theories is that this murder occurred exactly one year after another unidentified girl was found near Georgetown, Texas under very similar circumstances.
Be all this as it may, we're reaching out to our readers in the Blogosphere for information, either to the girl's identity or her death. Feel free to leave comments here and we can pass them on, or contact the Walker County Sheriff's Office at (936) 435-2400.