The short of it is, soon after leaving her husband in 1981, James started receiving threatening phone calls. The police started to investigate but over the next several months, the harassment increased. She reported prowlers outside her house at night. Windows were smashed and phone cords cut. According to a friend, James claimed bizarre notes were being left on her doorstep, and had been attacked several times. James tried to hide her identity – changing her last name, moving houses, painting her car, etc. – but the harassment continued, including the violent attacks. But because there were never any witnesses, the police became suspicious that James was lying about the case, or was withholding important information.
Months before her death, James was found hypothermic in a ditch six miles from her home. She was wearing a man’s work boot and glove and had a nylon stocking tied around her neck. She was cut and bruised, yet could not recall how she’d gotten to the ditch. Again, police were suspicious about her story. Shortly after, a fire was started in her basement – an arson, according to police, that only could only have been started by someone in the house, since there was no evidence of a break-in. James was suspected and she was checked into a psychiatric facility. She checked out 10 weeks later.
On May 25, 1989, she disappeared. Her car was discovered not far from her house, with groceries and a wrapped gift in the backseat. There was blood in the car. Her body was discovered two weeks later in an abandoned house.