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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    CO - Boulder Co., WhtFem 'Boulder Jane Doe, 17-20, Mar'54 - Dorothy Howard

    Unidentified Girl
    Date Located April 8, 1954
    Location Found Boulder Creek, CO
    Cause of Death Homicide

    Description (Estimates)
    Race: Caucasian
    Age: 17- 20
    Height: 5'2"
    Weight: unknown
    Eye Color: unknown
    Hair Color: Reddish-Blonde
    Clothing: none
    Scars / Other: appendectomy scar

    Case Details:
    Two University of Colorado students found the battered woman's nude body on found April 8, 1954, near Boulder Falls, a popular tourist spot about nine miles up Boulder Canyon. She had been at the location for approximately 1 week before being discovered.
    A Pathologist concluded the woman was still breathing when she was hurled down a 29-foot embankment into the creek. She had a fractured skull, a fractured jaw and numerous bruises.
    She had a perfect set of teeth with no fillings or cavities. She also had an appendectomy scar. Neither her clothing nor other evidence were found, despite an extensive search of the area. Missing person reports circulating at the time, were checked out by the sheriff, without success.
    A man was arrested in Oklahoma two days later driving a car with bloodstains on the back seat, as well as a ribbon bearing traces of blond hair. A few days later, he confessed to killing the owner of the car, not the woman.
    Few clues have surfaced to aid in identifying the woman.

    Investigating Agency Information
    Boulder County Sheriff Department
    Detective Ainsworth (303) 441-3650 or
    (303) 441-3627

    Source Information:
    Rocky Mountain News and Boulder Jane Doe



  2. #2

    Boulder Jane Doe (unidentified girl April 1954)

    The Associated Press will run an article on this case on or after Sunday December 12, 2004. Hopefully, the story will bring in some leads to help identify this murder victim.

  3. #3

    Boulder Jane Doe in USA Today

    boulderjanedoe.com has a link to today's (Dec. 12th) AP story, as it appears in USA Today.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Towns reopens Jane Doe slaying probe after 50 years

    Towns reopens Jane Doe slaying probe after 50 years

    BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — The death certificate read, "Unidentified Woman." The newspapers christened her "the unfortunate girl." The card with the red gladioli sent to her funeral was addressed "To Someone's Daughter."

    Folks never quite knew what to call her, the mystery woman whose battered, nude body was found 50 years ago along a creek in Boulder Canyon. Eventually, she came to be known by the inscription on the small granite headstone placed at her grave:

    "Jane Doe. April 1954. Age about 20 years."

    Back then, this picturesque university town was a much different place, and murder still a rare atrocity. Jane Doe's story made headlines across Colorado and beyond, yet no one ever came forward to claim her. So the people of Boulder adopted "someone's daughter" as their own.

    They donated money for a private cemetery plot rather than see her buried in a pauper's grave. Town florists sent sprays of roses and sweet peas to cover her casket, along with arrangements purchased out of the pockets of strangers. A pastor conducted a nondenominational service, and dozens came in their Sunday best to pay their respects.

    Then the murder investigation turned cold, and the nameless victim was all but forgotten.

    A half-century later, her remains have been unearthed and her case reopened — thanks to a curious historian who strolled by her grave and came away haunted by a question: "Who is she?"

    Now a new generation is trying to find out, and perhaps solve the biggest mystery of all.

    Not just who is Jane Doe. But who killed her?

    Body found, but few answers

    "GIRL FOUND SLAIN NEAR BOULDER!" screamed the headline in Denver's Rocky Mountain News.

    It was April 9, 1954, the day before spring break was to begin for the 7,000-plus students at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The previous evening two freshmen, their exams done, had driven nine miles west of town to explore Boulder Falls, a popular picnicking spot in the heart of a canyon filled with cottonwood and pine trees.

    When they spotted her remains, they first thought it was a mannequin. "We didn't think it could possibly be a human body," one of the students would tell a reporter.

    She lay on some rocks next to the stream. Her body was blackened and bruised — the skull fractured, left arm and several ribs broken. She was about 5-foot-3 and 100 pounds, 17-20 years old. Her hair was strawberry blonde. The coroner estimated she had been dead up to a week, and was probably still alive when her body was dumped.

    That was about all investigators would learn of their victim.

    No clothes were found, and she wore no jewelry. Her face and hands were so ravaged by animals her features, even eye color, were unrecognizable and a solid fingerprint impossible to obtain. She had no cavities to compare against dental charts.

    All that was left to distinguish her were three bobby pins and an appendectomy scar.

    Reports of missing girls poured in immediately, overwhelming the three-man sheriff's office. A mother from Pueblo came to view the body, while letters arrived from such places as Tuttle, Okla.; Excelsior Springs, Mo.; Crooksville, Ohio.

    "Am writing you in regards to the unidentified girl ..."

    "I have a daughter who has been missing since Feb. 13 ..."

    One included a yearbook snapshot of a smiling young woman.

    "We got tips from far, far away as well as a lot of local ones. I couldn't begin to tell you how many, but I guess hundreds would cover it," recalls 85-year-old Dock Teegarden, who served as undersheriff in 1954. He spent weeks searching mountain cabins for clues and investigating leads. "All of them checked out."

    The hunt for the killer also proved fruitless. Potential suspects were questioned but found to have no connection to the case. At one point, blood was found in a car with Colorado plates in Oklahoma, but the driver admitted killing someone else.

    Boulder was on the verge of a population boom, but at the time of the slaying, it remained a quiet, close-knit college town, leading investigators to conclude the victim wasn't a local — or surely someone would have known something.

    "There was a lot of sympathy, of course," Teegarden says. "Who was the girl? Why was she up there? A lot of people felt, 'That could've been my daughter.'"

    And so, when officials announced plans to bury her at Columbia Cemetery in an unmarked pauper's grave, people came forward with donations — $1, $10, offered by a patrolman, a laundry owner, an electrician, the feed store operator and others. The $95 needed for a private plot was quickly raised.

    A granite manufacturer began work on a headstone, while Howe Mortuary donated the casket and its chapel for a service.

    Two weeks after she was found, about 30 people filled the funeral home pews. During the service, at each place where the minister would have said the name of the deceased, he simply paused.

    The next day, a newspaper photograph showed a crowd of men in suits and women wearing dresses and pill box hats standing before a flower-strewn casket at the cemetery. The headline read: "Will This Grave Mark an Unsolved Mystery?"

    Casket, case reopened

    On a sunny morning this past June, a small band of folks gathered at Columbia Cemetery once more.

    "Let's have a moment of silence for Jane Doe," a sheriff's lieutenant said before a backhoe scraped away the first clump of earth.

    Standing on the grass, Silvia Pettem imagined the day 50 years earlier, when another cadre of Boulder citizens had assembled there. "They were burying her; we're digging her up," Pettem thought.

    "But it was still a group of people who cared," she would later remark, "and wondered who she was."

    Pettem has wondered more than most.

    It was 1996 when she first discovered Jane Doe. A longtime Boulder historian, Pettem was part of a "Meet the Spirits" cemetery reenactment in which volunteers portray the dearly departed. Her character was a university professor, but it was Jane Doe — whose headstone she spotted nearby — who caught her eye.

    Though a performer depicted the mystery woman — "Someone with a little acting flair could get into it," Pettem says — the historian found herself returning to the grave, unsatisfied with a made-up life story.

    "Who is she?" she wondered.

    Three years later, Pettem revived Jane Doe's tale in a history column she writes for the Boulder Daily Camera. In the newspaper's research room, in the "murders" file under "U" for Unidentified, she found a stack of brittle articles from 1954.

    Pettem was hooked.

    She wondered if Jane Doe could finally be identified — given today's advancements in DNA and facial reconstruction. She wrote the FBI to see what it knew of the case; the letter was returned with a note reading, "Too vague."

    But Pettem, who has spent years probing records about Boulder's past, wasn't about to stop there. "A relentless sleuth of the highest order," is how the Boulder Weekly describes the 57-year-old grandmother, whose mild manner belies her Nancy Drew instincts.

    In 2000, she contacted the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, but it no longer had records on the case. Over the next three years, Pettem set about building her own file.

    She visited Howe Mortuary before it closed, and found the funeral record for Jane Doe and an envelope still containing cards from those who sent flowers. She contacted newspapers and purchased old photographs of the investigation and funeral. She posted a query on a genealogy Web site until a friend created a site solely dedicated to Jane.

    Finally, in the fall of 2003, Pettem presented her findings to sheriff's investigators. What were the chances, she asked, of reopening the case and exhuming Jane Doe?

    Sheriff Joe Pelle and his detectives were enthusiastic but said they couldn't justify spending taxpayer money on such a cold case. Pettem came up with a solution. What if, as they had 50 years earlier, the citizens of Boulder donated the costs?

    On Feb. 4, 2004, Pelle held a news conference announcing his department would reopen the case if enough money could be raised to fund an investigation. Then Pettem spoke, telling the story of Jane Doe and imploring the community to pull together again "for this unknown victim."

    The money flowed in — donations ranging from $5 to $1,000, more than $3,600 to date.

    "I hope you will be successful," one contributor wrote. "Somewhere a family still wonders where she is."

    Searching for Jane Doe

    The exhumation took two days. A mortician who once worked at Howe supplied the equipment.

    Jane Doe's remains have since been shipped to a lab, where forensic anthropologists recently finished reassembling the skull. Sheriff's detectives hope a facial reconstruction expert can now create a sculpture of what Jane Doe might have looked like, so they can circulate a sketch that a long-lost relative or friend might recognize.

    Other forensic analysts are working to extract a DNA sample from her remains. The experts are all members of an organization Pettem tracked down earlier this year that does its work pro bono.

    The private donations will be saved to pay for DNA tests, should detectives find a possible family member.

    But time is running out. Sheriff's Lt. Phil West stresses that authorities can't even begin looking for Jane Doe's killer until they know who she was.

    "Any siblings she might have had — they're probably in their late 60s or early 70s. If we're going to make an identification, it'd have to be now," he says. "This is our last, best chance."

    Pettem understands that all too well. Now and then, she returns to the cemetery where Jane Doe first piqued her interest, and stands near her now-empty grave. What began as curiosity has evolved into a personal cause for Pettem, who just can't fathom losing a loved one and never knowing what became of that person.

    "If Jane Doe were my sister or mother," she once wrote, "I would hope that someone would care enough to research her remains for me."

    She still wonders, "Who is she?" Perhaps she was escaping an abusive husband or boyfriend. Perhaps she was a hitchhiker or a runaway.

    Then Pettem imagines something else: The day when Jane Doe might be laid to rest for good. Instead of strangers all around, Pettem pictures an elderly brother or sister, nieces and nephews, or cousins. Some of her Boulder family, too.

    "I want to be in Iowa or Tennessee or wherever she came from," the historian says wistfully, "at that burial."

    And wherever that place is, Pettem envisions a new headstone to mark it.

    One with Jane Doe's real name at last.



  5. #5

    Boulder Jane's skull

    Boulder Jane Doe's skull has been reassembled. Soon a drawing (facial reconstruction) will be done. When that is completed, the drawing will be aired on a special TV program on Boulder Jane Doe on "America's Most Wanted." No one has a date yet, but we're hoping January or February.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2004

    CO - Boulder - White Female, April 1954 - Dorothy Gay Howard, 18

    Here is a link to the case of Twylia May Embrey, who has been missing since 1953. I hope this link works.

    Last edited by Cubby; 01-09-2011 at 05:16 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    What a sad story about the girl, running off and none of the family ever seeing her again. And the father deciding later in life to tour the country looking for her. I don't think he had the means or knowledge to locater her. Tragic story to be sure. I hope that she lived a full life, but the fact that her social security # didn't have any activity after she disappeared isn't a good sign. Hope this turns out good.

  8. #8

    "Is Twylia Jane Doe?"

    Thank you for posting the Twylia May Embrey story, and thank you for caring about Boulder Jane Doe. Time (and DNA analysis) will tell if they are one and the same. See www.boulderjanedoe.com for more info and latest developments on the Twylia/Jane case.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Photos or X-rays?

    Were any photos taken, or X-rays made of this girl? While that would be standard procedure today, was it also the case in 1954? Also, what about finger prints, blood type, etc?

  10. #10

    Boulder Jane Doe

    These are all good questions with discouraging answers. First of all, all of the Sheriff's files from this whole decade are missing. According to newspaper reports, autopsy photos were taken but they, too, have been lost or destroyed. (They are not in the Sheriff's Office, the mortuary, the newspaper files, the historical society, the state archives, the library, etc. etc.) The victim's teeth were examined, but (according to newspaper reports) she had not had any dental work, and those records are gone, too. Also, from the newspaper reports, there was mention of the local authorities trying to get at least one fingerprint, but her body had been exposed to the elements and to animals for approximately one week, and her fingertips had been gnawed away. Nothing was said about blood type.

    On the brighter side, we have had one good response to the recent publicity on this case. Twylia May Embrey (see new thread) from North Platte NE could be Boulder Jane Doe. See the website www.boulderjanedoe.com for a link to the 1/8/05 article on the Twylia/Jane connection. It will take some time, but DNA will ultimately resolve this mystery.

  11. #11

    Another article on Twylia May Embrey

    Here's a link to another article (in 1/12/05 Omaha World-Herald) on the possible connection between Twylia May Embrey and Boulder Jane Doe.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    southern California
    Sounds like a very good possibility

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Native Texan, In Germany
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard
    Were any photos taken, or X-rays made of this girl? While that would be standard procedure today, was it also the case in 1954? Also, what about finger prints, blood type, etc?
    Sadly, nothing is standard procedure today. Nothing is taken but photographs, in almost all Doe cases. They are just starting to take dental impressions and/or dental x-rays, and if possible, sometimes fingerprints. Decomposition prevents that in many cases. Same with blood typing, if all you have is bones, there can be no blood sample drawn. Apparently, one or two states have finally figured out that exhumation is more costly than testing when a body is above ground.

    Sadly, probably not much has changed in the past 50 years.
    I have just invited someone to this thread, who just recently went through the waiting on a possible Doe match. LE had NOTHING significant, not even the blood type, even though this Doe was not decomposing, and blood was available for sample.

    It is my understanding, there would not be anything taken other than preliminary photographs, on the standand Doe case. I do think more states are doing panoramic X-rays for possible dental matches, thank God. But, in order to get a dental match, the family would have to have access to their missing loved ones dental records. Many, sadly, do not have these records available.

    That's why we are currently fighting for Doe laws to be changed. There is no national law other than NCIC, in so far as data being obtained at the time. Last I heard, each state is doing their own thing, and each city is doing their own thing. The bottom line is money. If a city cannot afford it, the testing isn't done.

    In other words, many of our nation's loved ones are "shelved" as Does. The information, what little there is, is processed slowly according to each states individual budget. Doe's are not a priority unless someone comes forward with a probable match. Not possible, mind you, probable. The only way any money will be spent, if it there is a very good chance there is a match. If not, the family can be prepared to cough up the money for exhumation and DNA or pulp testing. IF we had set regulations in place, some sort of national guideline, a lot of time and grief would be saved. The waiting is hard enough when a loved one is missing. Multiply that by one million after a family gets a call there "might be a match to a Doe"......"can you send dental records?"

    I can refer you to the persons currently pursuing this legislation, should you so desire it. It's going to take a lot to get lawmakers to hear this plea. We've been trying for as long as I can remember.

    God bless all who care for the missing, and the unclaimed.
    They are all someone's child. Loved and missed.

    With love and HOPE, Lanie

  14. #14

    Needed regulations for Doe victims

    Yes, please do send on your reference to the persons currently pursuing a set of regulations for Doe victims. I would like to contact the legislators. Thanks.

  15. #15

    Twylia May Embrey is not Boulder Jane Doe

    Photos of Boulder Jane Doe's skull were superimposed in a computer program onto a photo of Twylia May Embrey, and their bone structures did not match. There was no need to compare DNA. Now we have 2 mysteries, i.e. Who is Jane Doe? and Where is Twylia? See www.boulderjanedoe.com for more information.

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