Author Topic: GRANBY JANE DOE: F, 19-26, found in Hampshire County, MA - 15 November 1978  (Read 271 times)


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Woman works to identify shooting victim in 1978 case

By PATRICK JOHNSON, The Republican of Springfield

Updated: 7:50 AM EDT Sep 5, 2015

The grave stone in Granby's West Street Cemetery, where the remains of an unidentified woman have been buried since 1978. Originally the grave was marked with a wooden cross, but in 1998 people in Granby donated a permanent marker.
SOURCE: Patrick Johnson |


For about two years, Kelly Dillon has been preoccupied by thoughts of a young woman she calls G.G. - short for "Granby Girl" - but who is known by just about everyone else as "Jane Doe."

"I find it appalling she has never been identified," said Dillon, of Springfield. "It's been 37 years. Someone knows where this girl is from or who she was. Someone somewhere knows something."

The young woman's body, or what was left of it, was found in a shallow grave in Granby on Nov. 15, 1978. She had been shot in the head, most likely months earlier, and then buried off Amherst Road near Route 116. Her killer was never found, and neither has her identity.

Since then, all that she ever was and all that she is has been reduced to the words etched onto her grave marker in Granby's West Cemetery: "Unknown, Nov. 15, 1978. In God's care."

That is not good enough for Dillon.

Since learning of the case two years ago by chance, Dillon, 47, who works as financial administrative assistant for the state of Connecticut, has spent much of her free time trying to track down information that could lead to the discovery of Granby Girl's identity.

Though she has no training or experience in criminal investigations, Dillon over the last two years has reached out to Granby police, Springfield police and the Massachusetts State Police about the case. She has pored through various missing persons databases, scoured the Internet and filed Freedom of Information Act requests for information with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles and the federal Social Security information.

More recently, she contacted The Republican / MassLive about writing a story about it, if for no other reason than to trigger people's memories and possibly bring new information forward.

"I have just taken it upon myself that I'd like to see her identified, that I'd try to get her identified," she said. "For whatever reason."

During a recent interview, she used that phrase - "for whatever reason" - repeatedly.

She said she used it a lot because she is not altogether clear on why she set out to tackle this mystery. All she knows, she said, is that she must do something.

"I don't know what drives me on this," she said. "I was just 10 years old when they found her."

As far as she knows, she has no connection to Granby Girl. She does not know anyone from Granby, has never been to Granby, and isn't totally sure how she would get there if she ever wanted to go to the southern Hampshire County town.

She does not know anyone who has gone missing, nor does she know anyone who knows anyone who has gone missing.

All she knows is that from the first time she read of the case of the body of an unidentified woman found long ago in an unmarked grave in the woods of Granby, it just kind of pulled at her and refused to let go.

Granby Girl was found buried under a log in a wooded section of Granby, off Amherst Road and south of Route 116, on Nov. 15, 1978.

The first story of the discovery appeared in the Morning Union, a predecessor of today's The Republican, three days later. To give an idea how long ago that was, the story appeared on the front page alongside news stories about stalled peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt, USSR President Leonid Brezhnev boasting the Soviet Union had developed a neutron bomb and President Jimmy Carter hosting a White House party in celebration of the 50th birthday of Mickey Mouse.

That first story contained many of the elements of the case that have not changed over the years:

The body was that of an unknown woman found under a log by some people out gathering wood. She was approximately 5 feet, 4 inches tall, estimated to be between the ages of 19 and 27, and had dirty blond hair.

An autopsy determined she had been shot in the left temple.

The body was heavily decomposed from being in the woods anywhere from three months to a year before discovery.

The case is unsolved. While no one knows who the Granby Girl is, no one knows who killed her either. The case remains open, according to the office of Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan.

Little information about the status of the investigation was available, but First Assistant District Attorney Steven E. Gagne did say the DA's office is midway through developing new protocols to review longstanding unsolved cases.

He said he does not have any problem with an amateur sleuth like Dillion looking into old cases.

"The office always welcomes the submission of any information that could lead to the resolution of cases," he said.

Dillon, in a recent interview at her Springfield home, admitted that her exposure to and her interest in the Granby Girl case was one of total happenstance.

Home sick in bed with pneumonia, she was engaged in some free-flowing Web surfing when she happened upon a site called The Doe Network, which is an online database for missing and unidentified persons cases across the United States.

The site lets you search for open cases by geography, and she did what anyone from the area would do: She clicked on the tab for "Massachusetts." A dozen or so Jane and John Doe cases popped up on her screen, but only one was from Western Massachusetts: Granby Girl.

She said that as she read the file, she felt drawn to the unknown woman and was left with a feeling that she needed to do something.

"I just wanted to know," she said.

Dillon said several times during an interview that part of what drives her is that it bothers her that someone could be so alone in the world that no one would notice her missing.

Although she is trained to track down spending receipts, financial records and fiscal data, Dillion has no experience in police investigations, evidence processing or forensics. Despite that, she has plodded along, trying to think of every way she can for finding avenues that could lead to identifying Granby Girl.

She has spoken to Granby police and been referred to the Massachusetts State Police. She said she had repeated conversations with the state police lieutenant in charge of the investigation, but she has since retired. She has started talking with the new detective assigned to the case.

She has spoken with Springfield police about possible connections with a similar but solved murder involving a Springfield girl one month before the Granby body was found,

"Surprisingly, they are all a very suspicious lot. They wanted to know what my interest was," she said.

She has sent Freedom of Information requests to U.S. Social Security asking for records of women who were between 19 and 26 in 1978 who ceased having any Security Activity but for whom there was no death notification. They replied they were unable to process the request.

She has filed a similar request with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, asking for a list of all women between the ages of 19 and 26 and a certain height with blond hair who failed to renew their driver's license in the four years after 1978. The registry keeps track of people by height, age, hair and eye color.

After initially telling her they could not do it, the registry replied that it could. The search turned up a list of 300 names that were forwarded, as Dillon had requested, to the state police.

Everything she finds, she turns over to the state police. The case is an open investigation and she said she does not want to get accused of stepping on toes.

"I'm not trying to solve the murder As far as I'm concerned that's deep-ocean swimming, and I will leave the state police to it," she said. "I just want to know who this girl is - or was."

It's for that reason she does not want any of her personal contact information - no phone, no email - attached to this article. The last thing she wants is someone else with an interest in the case knocking on her front door, she said.

If anyone has information, they should contact the state police by way of the Northwestern District Attorney's office at (413) 586-9225.

Dillon says she is hoping that someone will come forward to say they remember. But until that happens, she will continue plodding along trying to find her identity.

As she gives an interview under the shelter of a beach umbrella in her backyard, she sifts through the sheets and sheets of paper that she has stuffed into a manila folder. There are newspaper clips, articles from missing persons websites and printouts of correspondences with the state police, different state agencies and anyone else she thinks can help.

Taped inside the folder is a handwritten note that turns out to be a passage from The Book of Alma, one of the volumes that make up The Book of Mormon:

"For the Lord suffereth the righteous to be slain that his justice and judgment may come upon the wicked; therefore ye need not suppose that the righteous are lost because they are slain; but behold, they do enter into the rest of the Lord their God."

Asked its significance, she shrugged and said it's a lost-lamb-gone-home type of thing.

"A friend wrote it out for me," she said.