Author Topic: ALBANY COUNTY JANE DOE: WF, 28-58, found in Fox Park, WY - 2 August 1999  (Read 290 times)

Akoya

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“After hearing from all these people that it was the same person, we were able to get her dental records,” Vernon-Kubichek said. “Anybody who could have looked at them could tell it was a perfect match.”

Despite being found just north of her home in Laramie, Lovell was never connected to the body. She had no family in the area and was never reported missing.

“It’s always been a big problem for us,” said Janet Franson, the division director for NamUs in Wyoming and eight surrounding states. She currently has a case load of more than 900 missing persons and 200 unidentified remains. “There’s a nationwide law that covers juveniles … but it’s not against the law [for an adult] to run away.”

And such could have been the case for Bitter Creek Betty, Campbell County’s Gravel Gertie or Sweetwater’s Pipeline Pete.

“Those are all people, not numbers,” Franson said. “They belong to someone.”

Every day, she said, more and more coroners, medical examiners and law enforcement officials register with NamUs.

“The more entities that we get exchanging information, the more successful we are in identifying previously unidentified remains.”

Betty should have been easy to ID.

The several days following the discovery of her body were a fuss of pokes and prods for Bitter Creek Betty. Although she was likely dumped as many as five months earlier, the frigid air and snow preserved her from standard decomposition. Her face was nearly pristine.

A coroner conducted an autopsy, only after Betty’s body thawed for 24 hours. As expected, the cause of death was labeled a homicide. She had been beaten, sexually assaulted, strangled and stabbed with an ice pick-like tool through the left nostril, piercing the sphenoid bone.

Forensic teams were able to obtain a near perfect set of fingerprints, which were submitted to a national FBI database. After the FBI said it didn’t have a match, the prints were submitted to all state-level agencies throughout North America; all came up empty.

The detectives launched an aggressive media campaign throughout the next weeks and months. They published and broadcast sketches and eventually actual photos of the victim’s face, after an artist had colored in her eyes.

“It’s just simple mathematics,” said Sweetwater County Detective Dick Blust, who worked on the case then and still does. “The more exposure we can get, the better chance we have of finding someone who recognizes her.”

Today, Blust still clings to hope that the case can be solved. His plain, black binder holds meticulous records of the hundreds of comparisons and subsequent eliminations his team has made over the years. The entries are brief but absolute.

“On 02/28/93, NCIC generated a possible matchup in the form of a missing person ... date of birth 06/64. The agency of origin for the potential matchup was listed as the Mills County, Iowa, Sheriff’s Office.

“On 03/01/93, Commander Blust contacted Sergeant Clifford Stegall of the Mills County Sheriff’s Office [Glenwood, Iowa,]; Sergeant Stegall advised that ... had been arrested on several occasions by the Denver, Colo. Police Department.

“On 03/01/93, Commander Blust contacted Senior Clerk Benita Quintana of the Denver, Colo/, Police Department., confirmed two arrests for ... and was able to eliminate her as a possible matchup through fingerprint comparison.”

Other missing persons proved even easier to eliminate as matches; they had too many tattoos, a steel rod, or had never given birth — Betty had a vertical Cesarean scar on her abdomen.

Betty’s most promising feature was her tattoo. The rose on her breast was distinct, and it not only helped eliminate several potential missing persons but led police to their only solid lead throughout the case.

After blasting that rose throughout the media, it paid off in July 1992. The rose was the work of a Tucson, Ariz., tattoo artist the tipster said, known for inking truckers and a calligraphy Kung Fu signature.

Detectives visited the artist, who proved instrumental. He remembered the woman, he said, and described her as a “leaper” — one who travels throughout the country hitching rides from various truckers. She was reasonably intelligent, Hispanic, and spoke without an accent. He was even able to describe the clothing she was wearing that day in June 1991: A brown peasant dress with yellow flowers.

The artist agreed to be hypnotized but still was unable to recall the woman’s name or any other details.

Blust said there were a number of other times he and the team were hopeful she was about to be identified. Distraught and unflinching family members of other missing persons called. Fingerprints would extend their pain and fail to identify Betty. For a few, their relatives were later found alive.

To date, no suspects have been named in the case.