Discussion in 'Identified!' started by anthrobones, Jun 19, 2008.
Great idea Summer, that way maybe twice the coverage. thanks
Cheryl Lynn Hall has been mentioned so often in relation to this case that I would be surprised if LE has not already checked her out. But I wouldn't presume that she has. A lot of people on this board bring up good possibles without ever calling them in.
Here is another possibility:
Dena Viola McHan
The time-frame is a little long, but her height and age are in range, and her weight is pretty close. The geography is not too bad considering that she was on the road when she was killed.
Also, she was wearing a white pullover sweater and designer jeans when she disappeared. VJD was wearing a red and white striped pullover sweater and designer jeans. Probably not the same pullover sweater, but at least they have the same fashion sense.
Another thing about Cheryl Lynn Hall - is that three days after this CLH went missing from LA, another Cheryl Lynn Hall was killed at her Chicago area home. That crime is still unsolved. That's probably no more than a macabre coincidence but might confuse a skeptical cold case investigator with a heavy caseload.
I phoned in to Detective Chuck Jones of the Coconino County Sheriff's Office and left him a message asking to confirm whether Dena McHan has been eliminated.
I also asked him to confirm whether Cheryl Lynn Hall has been eliminated. I indicated that although her resemblance to VS is striking, her age was well out of range.
BTW, It doesn't look like Valentine Sally has a NamUs file.
Chuck Jones called me back. He was a quite chatty guy, and we spoke for about a half hour.
He indicated that Dena McHan was ruled out by default by CODIS. However, he wasn't able to tell me whether Cheryl Lynn Hall was ruled out or not. He doesn't have a rule-out list on this UID like he has with some other cases, and the case file is too large to check out while he was on the phone, but he didn't remember hearing her name. He is going to contact the L.A. County Sheriff to see what he can find out about CLH, and he will e-mail me back to let me know what what he finds out.
Regarding Valentine Sally, he spoke for quite a while about her case. He says that they don't know her cause of death, only that she was murdered. Evidence indicates that she was pulled out of the sleeper cab of a truck by her belt loops, and her sweater was pulled up over her head from being dragged by the arms. She was left under a cypress tree only a few feet off of the shoulder of the road. She had been dead for several days, and by the time she was found, her face had been badly picked at by animals. The area where she was found was at a long incline where trucks frequently stop to cool their brakes, so nobody would have paid much attention to a truck stopped at that point in the highway.
When I mentioned that CLH might be too old to look at as a possible, he said not at all. Their estimates have her at 16 to 22, although there is nothing to absolutely rule out that she might have been older. When I mentioned DoeNet's estimate of 14 to 19, he said that he should have DoeNet change that because there is no way that she was as young as 14.
He also said that he believes that the forensic sketch is pretty accurate. They had a witness - a waitress who served VS and the likely perp in a coffee shop. She said that the forensic sketch looked very much like the woman, and she also gave a pretty good description of the perp. They are sure that the waitress was talking about the same person because VS didn't want anything to eat at the cafe because she had a bad toothache. All she wanted was an aspirin and water. They learned later after the autopsy that VS had a uncompleted root canal.
He went on about a bunch more, but I think I'll leave it at that. I could be here all afternoon trying to summarize what he said.
Another thing that he discussed was that Valentine Sally was at one point positively ID'd in error. I was aware of this, but many on this board may not know the story. The family of Melody Cutlip, a Florida runaway, was told that Melody had been murdered. The victim (i.e., Valentine Sally) was buried in a Williams AZ cemetery with Melody's name on the gravestone. It was a couple of years later that the real Melody called her mother on the telephone, and they were subsequently reunited.
Since this article was written, the family has angrily demanded that Melody's name be removed from the gravestone.
If you google the name Melody Cutlip there is a 1998 news article reporting that a woman named Melody Cutlip (32) was killed in an auto accident in Metairie, LA in 1998. The age is right, as Melody was 20 in 1986 when she was reunited with her mother.
Just received this e-mail from Chuck Jones of the Cococino AZ Sheriff:
From: Jones, Chuck [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 2:46 PM
Subject: Cheryl Lynn Hall
Carl, the NCIC missing person entry for Hall contained her dental characteristics and they do not match Valentine Sally.
Thanks for your effort, please keep looking.
Cold Case Investigator
Coconino County Sheriffs Office
That's too bad. It looked like a very promising match.
I had not heard that story about Melody Cutlip. Very interesting.
Good news, at least in the fact that Investigator Jones was available at the sheriff's office when you called, but even better he sent a follow-up email with information to rule her out.
That's the kind of information we need to go forth and continue our digs, otherwise we want to believe we've found the answer but no one will dot the I or crossing the T to close it out.
Detective Jones is one of those investigators that are a pleasure to deal with. He is clearly committed to solving this case, and is more than willing to follow up on whatever leads are presented to him. Also, he is very authentic in his gratitude for what we do.
Impressive, especially considering it was a cold call to him, many times a call made to LE give the notion of a disconnect, like what possible information could we have and are we a nut job? Instead of looking at the fact that we might be providing something that helps. With the Internet, people have the time and knowledge as well as like a good old fashion mystery to solve.
All I'd like from the person I contact is it is or it isn't or I'll check and get back to you shortly. Email is fast and personal and answers the question.
Jones sounds like a good guy to keep as a contact, that area of the country has a boat load of cold cases they're sorting through.
Valentine Sally's case is new to me. So many details, an eyewittness, and yet still no i.d. Agh! I wonder what in the world would make a young girl runaway while in the middle of a dental procedure? A parent makes sure she gets dental procedures yet dosent report her missing? That dosent sound right. My gut says her match is out there. I have a question. Do we know what side of the road the truck was traveling? East or west along the main highway(40) that runs through Williams? That would tell us a lot.
Can we find out what side of the road she was found? It would most likley tell us what direction the truck was headed thus telling us what direction she came. Having only one state to the west, and her being on the run only a week, it would definitly narrow the search.
She was on the eastbound side of the highway. The Doe Page indicates that she was found 11 miles west of Williams, AZ. It also says that she was previously at the Monte Carlo Truckstop in Ash Fork (which is West of the point where she was found).
I have mapped out the route from Monte Carlo Truckstop (A) to the location 11 miles west of Williams (B) below.
Also, the detective told me that they were heading toward Flagstaff, and that they actually detained a suspect in Flagstaff who was a trucker that fit the description of the perp, and he had a wife that was blonde and very attractive and fit Valentine Sally's description, but they located the wife and she was very much alive.
Note: I revised the Google Earth views, because I found out that point A (i.e., the Monte Carlo Truck Stop) is at exit 149, which is only 2.2 miles west of where the body was found.
What makes even less sense is that she is apparently being cared for by her traveling companion and then five miles later she is dead.
Now I guess the truck stop could have been an overnight stop but otherwise the trucker/killer has five miles, taking less than ten minutes, in which to go from a civil and friendly relationship,
Sure, they could have been spending the night together and it turned nasty then, but that would imply that he hadn't planned to kill her because otherwise he'd have restrained her in the truck so that there were no witnesses to the two of them together.
There was a story in England about a trucker who took his girlfriend's daughter out on a run in the truck and then killed her and then himself for some unknown reason. I can't help thinking that a girl who voluntarily goes missing (at first, at least) must have had a difficult home life and a pretty convincing back story to stop the family from reporting her. Maybe a (step) father could provide that background.
That is an entirely plausible scenario. They stopped for the night, had dinner and turned in for the night. She was in a grumpy mood because of her toothache, he was in a grumpy mood because she was in a grumpy mood, and he finally decided to do her in because he was sick of hearing her complain.
It probably happened right in the parking lot of the Monte Carlo truck stop, and the next morning, he drove two miles down the road and dumped her body.
BTW, I don't intend to imply that she was in any way responsible for her own death. A murderer is always 100% responsible for his actions.
The fact that she had a tooth drilled for a root canal approx a week before means she was most likely from a western state-California, Nevada, or even Arizona. I also wonder why they were not able to determine cause of death--she was only found a few days after she was killed. And if there is no cause of death, how do they know it was homocide?
Here is direct link to her doe file:
I would like to know what kind of weather they were having in that area. N. Arizona can get alot of snow, and I-40 can sometimes be closed because of the road conditions. Maybe she was alive but exposed to the elements and died that way?
From what I can tell this is one of the harshest winters there's been for a long time, and we're barely a week past the anniversary of Sally's discovery.
Weather for Williams, AZ this week gives a mean high temperature of 36 degrees and a mean low of 15 degrees Fahrenheit. It's not a dangerously low temperature in itself, but you'd have to have warm clothing.
You'd certainly want more than a sweater and jeans to be out for more than a couple of minutes - but we know that if exposure were the cause of death Sally wouldn't have been more than 10 miles from civilization (either the truckstop or the town of Williams). She could have covered that distance within three to four hours, even if she couldn't have hitchhiked. She'd have known which was nearer, too, because on a freeway you'd have mile markers and road signs.
Of course she could have been out of her mind on drink or drugs but in the absence of tox results, and given that the truck stop lady didn't seem concerned enough to intervene even though the UID looked young, I'd say that's not particularly likely. Alternatively she could have had incapacitating injuries that weren't in themselves fatal - but the primary cause is still homicide.
All in all, while there are no certainties I'd say exposure is not particularly likely as a cause of death although it certainly seems more likely than natural causes. I'd personally go with homicide as the most probable, then possibly injuries caused by jumping from a moving truck (although you might then expect her to be in the roadway and thus discovered much sooner than 9-10 days).
Detective Jones told me that her face and neck were severely damaged from animal and insect activity, and there was no broken hyoid bone to suggest strangulation. But he said that if, for example, she had been smothered with a pillow, there would have been no way of determining that given the condition of her body.
(I have heard that suffocation can be determined via microscopic examination of the blood vessels in the eyes, but if her eyes were decomposed, this would not be possible)
He did say that they were able to determine that she was murdered despite the lack of a cause of death, but he did not elaborate on how they knew that her death was a deliberate act.
Det. Jones also said that she was clearly dragged into position. Two of her belt loops were broken, presumably from an initial attempt to carry her from the truck. Also, the way her sweater was bunched up over her head and her partially hidden position underneath a cypress tree suggested that she was dragged to her location and placed there (as opposed to landing there from a moving vehicle or just being thrown from a stopped vehicle).
I'm not imagining things. When I looked at this JD, I thought, "I've seen that slightly goofy open-mouthed smile and wide eyes in somebody I was just looking at.
And I found her. Judith O'Donnell, who went missing in Maryland in November 1980. But I think she's a little too tall.