|April 21, 2010, North Platte Telegraph, Author to speak about quest to identify murder victim, by Diane Wetzel
Boulder author and historian Silvia Pettem will talk about her search to identify a 1954 murder victim at the Lexington Public Library on May 4, 2010 at 7 p.m.
Pettem's book "Someone's Daughter: In Search of Justice for Jane Doe" was recently named as a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.
Meticulously researched and written with the skill of a historian and the heart of a mother, "Someone's Daughter" is the result of Pettem's 13-year campaign to identify the young victim. It is a haunting journey with a brief pause in the North Platte area.
Family members thought Jane Doe might be Twylia May Embrey, a young woman from Wellfleet who disappeared from North Platte in 1953. Through Pettem's research, with assistance from Twylia's grandniece Jennifer Kitt, a network of amateur detectives and historians was developed across the country to help in the search for Jane Doe. Through their efforts, it was discovered that Twylia had settled in Massachusetts, changed her name and died on March 20, 2006; never knowing the family she left behind was searching for her.
Pettem became interested in the story of Jane Doe after seeing her grave at a Boulder cemetery in 1996. She convinced Boulder police to re-open the case and raised funds to pay for an exhumation of the grave for forensic study. Frank Bender, artist and co-founder of the Vidocq Society who did the facial reconstruction from Jane Doe's skull, calls Pettem, "a real life Agatha Christie."
"The title of the book was taken from a florist's card that accompanied the red gladioli sent to Jane Doe's original burial in 1954," Pettem said. "The card was addressed 'To someone's daughter' because that's all anyone knew at the time."
That's all anyone knew for more than 50 years until late last year when DNA tests confirmed that Jane Doe was Dorothy Gay Howard, an 18-year old runaway from Phoenix, Ariz. Pettem's appearance at the Lexington Library is sponsored by the Lexington Community Foun-dation Library Initiative and the Public Library.