On July 14, 1972, a rancher in rural Elko County, Nevada found the nude and decomposed body of an unidentified female who had been posed in a cross-like manner. The location is 35 miles east of the city of Elko.
The area is approximately a half mile west of Starr Valley Road and eight miles south of I-80. It’s located in the desert, just off Dennis Flats Road, which travels between Starr Valley and Halleck. In crime scene photos, Lamoille can be seen to the south, while part of 71 Ranch can be seen to the east.
Given the remote location, someone not familiar with the area would have had to drive a considerable distance in order to arrive there.
Upon Jane Doe’s remains being brought to the coroner’s office for examination, it was determined she’d died months prior, the result of a homicide. She’d been shot with a .22 caliber handgun in the neck and left cheek.
The deceased is described as a white female between the ages of 17 and 25. She stood at 5’2″ and weighed between 105 and 115 pounds. Her hair has been described as either reddish-blonde or sandy blonde in colour and shoulder length, and her pubic hair was reddish-blonde. Given the level of decomposition, her eye colour could not be determined. She had two scars: one on the outside of her right knee and an appendectomy scar on the lower right quadrant.
According to reports, a dark blue Volkswagen Beetle with Tennessee plates was seen in the area where Jane Doe on July 7 or 8, 1972. It’s believed to have been reported stolen, but was never recovered.
Investigators are looking into the theory the case is related to others across Nevada. On November 16, 1993, the nude body of a female was found in a sage bush at the Shafter Exit of I-80, posed in a cross-like manner. Her face had been severely beaten and she’d been shot in the chest with a small caliber handgun. She was found 50 miles from where Starr Valley Jane Doe’s remains had been located. Despite the crimes having occurred 21 years apart, similarities were found between them. Both women were likely in the 20s, with light brown or dark blonde hair. They’d both been shot with a small caliber handgun, posed nude, and their bodies dumped near I-80.
The main investigator on the case, along with others from law enforcement agencies across Nevada, came together in 2009 to discuss the possible connection. However, the results of this meeting have not been publicly released.
There is also speculation that both cases are related to the Great Basin murders, which took place between 1983 and 1996 in Wyoming and surrounding states. Dale Wayne Eaton has been named a suspect in the cases and is known to have past ties to Nevada – most specifically, Elko.
Two other cases are believed to be connected: the Devils Gate Jane Doe and the Thousand Springs Jane Doe. The former was found in a shallow ditch in Elko, Nevada on October 2, 1972 by a hunter. She was a white, Hispanic or mixed race individual likely between the ages of 15 and 18. She had strawberry blonde hair with curls at the end, and had likely died between four to 12 weeks prior. The latter was found by tourists in a dry wash in Elko, Nevada, on July 16, 1974 – approximately 33 miles north of Wells, where the California Trail runs into US Highway 93. She had auburn/red hair and was likely between 16 and 25 years of age. She’d died by strangulation and her body had been burned beyond recognition.
Starr Valley Jane Doe’s case is the oldest currently being handled by the Elko County Sheriff’s Office. According to police, they’d obtained suspect information based on other missing people investigations, but “nobody was able to follow up on it”.
1) Nadine Claire Timms, who went missing from Lockport, Illinois on November 16, 1965.
CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:
Jane Doe’s dentals are available for comparison, as is one fingerprint.
Those with information regarding the identity of Jane Doe are asked to contact the Elko County Sheriff’s Office at 775-738-3421. Tips can also be called into the Elko County Coroner’s Office at either 775-738-8936 or 775-777-2505.
Image Credit: The Doe Network