At 2:00pm on July 5, 1966, a couple calling themselves Mr. & Mrs. Russell Battuon checked into the Ropers Motel in Pecos, Reeves County, Texas. A couple of hours later, between 4:00pm and 5:30pm, it’s reported that a maid heard a scream and found the female companion drowned in the motel pool. With the aid of a bystander, the employee was able to pull the woman from the water, but despite an ambulance being called, she was pronounced dead at Reeves Memorial Hospital.
At the time of the drowning, the woman’s partner was asleep in their room. It’s reported the pair had been spotted swimming together earlier that afternoon. After she was rushed away in the ambulance, he packed up their belongings and checked out of the motel, taking with him the registration card under the pretence he needed it to confirm his stay with hospital staff, as the pair were not from the area.
In the mid-1960s, Pecos was a town with a population of 13,000 people. It was well-travelled by visitors, as two major roadways run directly through it, Interstate-20 and US Highway 285.
According to those who examined her body after she was pronounced deceased, her cause of death was the result of an accidental drowning. There is no evidence of foul play, and she appeared to have been alone when she died.
Jane Doe’s funeral was held on July 20, 1996 at Fairview Cemetery, where she was buried in a donated casket and clothing under a headstone, which reads “Unknown Girl Drowned”. Approximately 50 people attended the ceremony, including a couple from Odessa, Texas and another from Roswell, New Mexico, who had missing daughters. Additional relatives of missing females also reached out to authorities, but these leads led nowhere.
Occasionally, there have been flowers placed on her grave by an anonymous mourner, who also works to maintain the burial site. Officers with the Pecos Police Department also continue to leave flowers.
Police were unable to locate or identify the man Jane Doe had been with. All they had to work with was a description, which said he was a short and slender male of around 25 years of age, with blond hair. He’d been wearing a white t-shirt, black trousers and loafers, and he’d driven a late-model Sedan, possibly from 1963. An investigation into the name he’d given upon checking in at the motel – Russell Battuon – found it to belong to a Marine who had been stationed in North Carolina before serving in Vietnam. The connection between him and Jane Doe remains unclear.
According to investigators, the unknown male would only be facing charges resulting from “defrauding” the motel, which is something they believe he may have done out of fear.
Police investigated a lead regarding an overheard conversation between two men. One of them had stated that he’d “picked up a girl near the border, but managed to get rid of her”. It’s unclear what came of this tip.
As Jane Doe had not had any dental work done, police had no records to compare her teeth to. Uploading her fingerprints into the FBI’s national database came back with no hits. With the help of the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Reeves County sheriff circulated pictures of her body across the United States, Mexico and Canada. However, no one came forward to identify her.
The Pecos Police Department and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have teamed up with Othram Inc. to help try and identify Jane Doe through the use of forensic genealogy. Othram Inc. is the world’s first private DNA laboratory built to apply modern parallel sequencing with forensic evidence.
Jane Doe is described as a white female between the ages of 17 and 20. Given her olive complexion, some believe she may have been of Latin or Italian descent. She stood from 5’4″ to 5’5″ and weighed approximately 120 to 130 pounds. She had long brown hair and her eyes, which are said to have been large, were brown in colour.
At the time of her drowning, she was wearing a bright-red bathing suit. When employees at the motel saw her earlier in the day, she is said to have been wearing a flowered blouse with a bra and dark shorts.
As aforementioned, there was no evidence of dental work and she is said to have had perfect teeth. Her body showed two scars, a 4″ burn scar on the right side of her rib cage and another 3″ scar on her left leg.
CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:
Jane Doe’s dentals and fingerprints are available for comparison.
Those with information regarding the identity of Jane Doe are asked to contact the Pecos Police Department at 432-445-4911.
Image Credit: NCMEC