Alice Lee was playing in the bean rows at the Swan's bean yard north of Pleasant Hill while her mother and older siblings were collecting green beans. It was around 10 a.m. when she told her mother that she was going to put her dolls and things with her lunchbox. Investigators later found those items Alice was putting back; placed in the area where pickers kept their lunches but the seven-year-old had vanished. A search ensued that same day, involving about 100 people but no trace of Alice was found. The searches continued for almost three weeks until it was noticed that buzzards were circling over a certain area.

On September 16th, Alice's nude body was discovered in a hand dug grave. She was faced down and had been strangled; her clothes were piled (some accounts say folded) next to her. Dealing with a homicide and probable sexual assault, the governor ordered that the OSP take over the investigation. Detectives Cleve Veteto and Al Wolfe worked the case hard; following up on all leads. The pickers in the area that day were all questioned; the men questioned more intensely. A lot of promising leads were pursued but everything came up empty and the case went cold. Veteto and Wolfe continued to work the case throughout the following decades.

Originally, it was thought that Alice had fallen into a river and drowned which explains why some evidence may have been lost. The perpetrator was most likely working that same day it happened and was not a stranger to the area. Alice's parents are now deceased but two of her siblings might still be alive. Although it happened over 55 years ago, the search for Alice's killer is still active.

Girl’s murder in 1960 still being investigated

Wolfe and the late longtime Oregon State Police Det. Cleve Veteto were assigned to the case after Oregon Gov. Mark Hatfield ordered the agency to take over the investigation of Alice’s murder and likely sexual assault. It was their first child murder case, and both were then 30-year-old OSP troopers with young children of their own. They were anguished, Wolfe said later, by thoughts of how helpless Alice was, “how scared she must have been.”
Wolfe and Veteto had pledged to one another that they would never give up on finding Alice’s killer. Just before Veteto died of cancer five years ago, his last request of his former colleague was that Wolfe continue to seek justice for the child.
50-year search for justice: A retired detective carries on the quest for the killer of Alice Lee

Wolfe believes a young male working at the bean yard that day killed the girl. The Swans hired only local youths and families, not transient adults, the detective noted. And Alice’s body was buried less than a quarter-mile from the bean field.

“If it had been someone with a vehicle, I think that body would have been buried far away,” Wolfe said.
“To get to Swan’s bean yard, you had to drive down a country road and then down a winding, dirty road that looked like it dead-ended,” she said. “And you couldn’t see the bean field even from its parking lot.”
Wolfe suspects — as did Veteto — that the killer was someone Alice knew. He theorizes that the killer was teasing and tussling with the girl, that she screamed when his touching turned sexual, and that he strangled her in panic.
December 1960 Article Includes a picture of Alice.

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