*UPDATE: The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office has identified Valentine Sally as Carolyn Eaton, a 17-year-old runaway from St. Louis, Missouri.*
On February 14, 1982, an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer searching for a blown out tire discovered the decomposing body of an unidentified female about 11 miles from Williams, Coconino County, Arizona. The body, which appeared to have been dragged to the location, was found facedown under a cedar tree by the westbound lanes of I-40, near mile post 151.8.
The stretch of Interstate where Jane Doe was found is known for being a long incline where truck drivers will often pull over to cool their brakes.
Upon her body being brought into the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office, it was determined Jane Doe had died approximately two weeks prior to being found. Due to extensive animal and insect activity, her face and neck were severely damaged and very little flesh remained. Her right ear was also missing
There were no signs of sexual assault. While the cause of death is unknown, police believe it was due to a possible homicide. There is no broken Hyoid bone to suggest strangulation, so death by suffocation is currently their working theory.
A search of the area where Jane Doe was found showed evidence that she had been pulled out of the sleeper cab of a truck by her belt loops. The jeans she was found wearing also showed the rear belt loop had been broken, and the sweater she had been wearing was pulled over her head, indicating she had also been dragged by her arms.
Early into the investigation, Jane Doe was dubbed “Valentine Sally”.
A Northern Arizona University student came forward to say he’d picked up a hitchhiker fitting Jane Doe’s description near Cordes Junction on February 2, 1982. He had been travelling north at the time. According to the student, the woman claimed to be from Phoenix, where she worked as a dishwasher and lived with friends. However, due to family problems, she was on her way to New Jersey and was planning on travelling to the Little America truck stop in Flagstaff, Arizona in order to get a ride with a truck driver to the East Coast.
A few witnesses put Jane Doe with one or two men at the Monte Carlo truck stop in Ash Fork, Arizona during the early morning hours of February 4, 1982. According to the witnesses, one of the men seen with her was white and around 60 to 65 years old. He stood between 5’8″ and 5’10” and appeared to be of medium weight. He had been wearing a two-toned brown checkered leather vest and a felt cowboy hat with a peacock feather stuck to it.
Specifically, a waitress at the truck stop described to investigators an encounter with a teenage girl who refused food and asked for Aspirin to help treat a toothache. The waitress believed her to have been 16 to 17 years old, and she was said to be with a man who the waitress believed to be a male relative, either a father or an uncle. According to her, the pair had entered the truck stop around 3:00am on the morning of February 4 and left about an hour later.
At one point during the investigation, police detained a suspect from Flagstaff who was a trucker who fit the description of one of the men witnesses had described. His wife was also said to resemble Jane Doe. However, his wife was located alive.
In 1984, Jane Doe was misidentified as teenage Florida runaway Melody Eugene Cutlip. Melody had run away from home in 1980. The match between her and Jane Doe was made by a forensic odontologist, who claimed Jane Doe’s bite marks matched enlarged images of Melody’s teeth, a method deemed unorthodox and unreliable. However, as a result of this determination, Jane Doe was buried under a headstone with Melody’s name.
Melody’s mother never believed her daughter to be Jane Doe, a belief that was confirmed in 1986 when her daughter reunited with her family. Melody would later die as a result of a vehicular accident in 1998, and her name remains on Jane Doe’s headstone.
Jane Doe is described as white, and is believed to have been between 16 and 24 years old. Said to have been shapely and well-proportioned, she stood anywhere from 5’4″ to 5’5″ and weighed approximately 120 to 125 pounds. Her straight hair was 9.5″ long and was either blonde or strawberry blonde. Unfortunately, her eye colour couldn’t be determined due to decomposition. However, witness accounts say they might have been blue.
When found, Jane Doe was only wearing Seasons brand jeans, size 8 or 9. Near the body was found a white sweater with thin red/maroon stripes, a white handkerchief and a white bra, size 36C. Her left earlobe was pierced and it’s believed her right was as well. However, due to her right ear being missing, this can’t be confirmed. She had irregular, rough and well-healed scars on the top of her left foot, one 3.5cm long and the other 1.4cm, as well as a well-healed diagonal scar on the back of her lower thigh that was about 3.5cm in size.
According to dental records, Jane Doe had had one of her lower molars drilled in preparation for a root canal approximately one week prior to her death, while four other teeth had not yet erupted. It’s believed the root canal could have signalled a previous or ongoing infection.
1) Dena McHan, who went missing from Stockton, California on June 7, 1981.
2) Cheryl Lynn Hall, who went missing from Marina Del Rey, California on September 6, 1981.
3) Carol Lubahn, who went missing from Torrance, California on March 31, 1981.
4) Dorothy Clitheroe, who went missing from Phoenix, Arizona on September 20, 1973.
5) Charlotte Kinsey, who went missing from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on September 26, 1981.
6) Diane Webb, who went missing from Phoenix, Arizona on January 9, 1960.
7) Amy Yachimec, who went missing from Phoenix, Arizona on November 6, 1981.
8) Eleanor Parker, who went missing from East Baton Rouge, Louisiana on November 10, 1981.
9) Mary Jo Long, who went missing from Gardena, California on February 22, 1981.
10) Eva Ridall, who went missing from Bradenton, Florida on May 1, 1977.
11) April Zane, who went missing from Frankfort, Illinois on April 18, 1977.
12) Melida Creech, who went missing from Anderson, Indiana on September 4, 1979.
13) Phyllis Brewer, who went missing from Lowellville, Ohio on June 13, 1981.
14) Teresa Hammon, who went missing from Sacramento, California on May 8, 1981.
CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:
Jane Doe’s DNA and dental records are currently available.
Those with information regarding the identity of Jane Doe are asked to contact the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Squad at 928-226-5033 or the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office at 928-679-8775.
Image Credit: Carl Koppelman/The Doe Network