September 11, 2008 Boulder County Sheriff's Office, Re-Interment of "Jane Doe," 1954 Homicide Victim, by Boulder County Sheriff's Office

The remains of “Jane Doe”, the unidentified victim of a 1954 Boulder County homicide, were re-interred in her original grave in Boulder’s historic Columbia Cemetery on Tuesday morning, September 9th.

“Jane Doe’s” naked and battered body was discovered alongside Boulder Creek in Boulder Canyon, approximately eight miles west of Boulder, on April 8th, 1954. An autopsy determined that she had died at the scene from exposure and complications arising from multiple fractures administered by her killer. Despite an extensive investigation at the time, “Jane Doe” was never identified and her killer was never apprehended.

At the request of local historian Silvia Pettem and a few like-minded citizens, Sheriff Joe Pelle resurrected the investigation in February 2004 with the hope of identifying “Jane Doe” through the use of modern forensic technologies. Pursuant to a court order, an exhumation was conducted by Sheriff’s investigators, acting under the direction of forensic experts from the Vidocq Society in June 2004. The skeletal remains were
re-assembled and analyzed by Dr. Walter Birkby, a forensic anthropologist. Mr. Frank Bender, an internationally renowned forensic artist, conducted a facial re-construction, giving “Jane Doe” a face that was subsequently featured in a nationally-broadcast episode of “America’s Most Wanted”.

Investigators also developed a mitochondrial DNA profile for “Jane Doe” with the assistance of Mitotyping, Inc. of State College, Pennsylvania. The profile has been used to exclude a couple of missing persons as possible candidates for identification.

Through Ms. Pettem’s research (and that of her dedicated team of volunteers), another possible candidate, Katharine Farrand Dyer, was identified. Dr. Todd Fenton, a forensic anthropologist at Michigan State University, in East Lansing, Michigan, subsequently performed a photographic superimposition of Ms. Dyer’s image over a casting of “Jane Doe’s” skull. While he noted several similarities, he was unable to confirm that Ms. Dyer was, in fact, “Jane Doe”.

It might be noted that many of the experts donated their expertise to the Sheriff’s Office without cost; most of the remaining expenses were covered by funds raised through the efforts of the “Jane Doe Fund”.

During the past four years, our investigation has netted much information about “Jane Doe” that was not available to our predecessors in 1954. Out of respect for the deceased, and recognizing that virtually every new forensic technology or technique has been applied, Sheriff Pelle directed that the remains be re-interred with dignity pending making a positive identification at some point in the future. The case remains open, and the search for family members of Katharine Farrand Dyer (from whom a DNA profile could be developed for comparison against “Jane Doe’s” DNA profile) continues.

With the cooperation of Boulder City Parks officials, who maintain Columbia Cemetery, “Jane Doe” was re-interred in her original gravesite. Crist Mortuary of Boulder generously provided a donated casket and vault for the re-interment and arranged for the opening and closing of the grave. A brief graveside service was officiated by Rev. Andy Wineman, a chaplain from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office; a small contingent of Sheriff’s investigators, staff from Crist Mortuary, and City Parks and Open Space officials attended. Ms. Pettem provided a spray of red gladiolas, representing historically the bouquet that adorned “Jane Doe’s” grave when she was first buried.

This media release may be found at the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office web-site at: