Sonoma County Jane Doe (1979)

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At 3:10pm on July 2, 1979, hikers walking in Rincon Valley discovered skeletal remains, nude and hogtied, at the bottom of a canyon west of Calistoga Road, near Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California. The remains were found along a spring-fed creek only accessible via a washed-out fire trail. Several bones had been moved by animals and carried downstream by heavy winter rains.

A rope was around the decedent’s neck, hands and feet. It was looped, with anklebones sticking through it, and stretched up the back vertebrae and wrapped four times around the third and second neck vertebrae. The rope used to bind her was either a clothesline or a venetian blind cord.

Grommets and fabric pieces found with the remains indicate the body was placed inside a duffle or laundry-type bag before being dumped, and samples of auburn or reddish hair were found on-site.

The area where the remains were found is a known dumping ground for the perpetrator of the Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Murders. The body was found just 100 yards from where Lori Lee Kursa’s remains were recovered six years prior, and the decedent was found in the same manner as Theresa Walsh.


An autopsy was performed on the remains, and determined the decedent had likely died between three and seven years prior. There was no evidence found to establish a cause of death, but given the circumstances, it was deemed to be the result of a homicide.


The decedent is described as a white female between the ages of 16 and 21. It’s estimated she stood around 5’3″, and had either brown- or auburn-coloured hair. Given the state of the remains, her weight and eye colour could not be determined. Jane Doe had a healed rib fracture and a broken arm at the time of her death.

Police tried to use dental charts to identify the decedent, but were unable to find any matches.

Hard contact lenses within a metal candy tin decorated with cherries were found near the remains. This has led one expert to speculate Jane Doe was likely killed between 1972 and 1974, as hard contacts weren’t as popular in the United States and Canada after the mid-1970s, when soft contacts became more widely available.

Given the circumstances, it’s believed the decedent is a victim of the Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Murders, which took place in Sonoma County and Santa Rosa between 1972 and 1973. At least seven females have been determined to be victims, and there’s believed to be more who have not yet been identified. All known victims were found nude in rural areas near steep embankments or creek beds. Those known to have been killed are Maureen Sterling, Yvonne Weber, Kim Wendy Allen, Lori Lee Kursa, Carolyn Davis and Theresa Walsh.

Several potential suspects have been named, including the Zodiac Killer, the Hillside Stranglers, Arthur Lee Allen, Fredric Manalli and Ted Bundy. However, no one has been convicted in the murders.


1) Jeannette Kamahele, who went missing from Santa Rosa, California on April 25, 1972.


Jane Doe’s dentals and DNA are available for comparison.

Those with information regarding the identity of Jane Doe are asked to contact the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office at 707-565-2569. Tips can also be called into the Violent Crimes Unit at 707-565-2185 or the Coroner at 707-565-5070.

Image Credit: The Doe Network

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