Cold Case: Walker County Jane Doe Remains Unknown

In 2015, the investigators worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to create a photo of what they believe the victim looked like.

Since the 1980s, a death has haunted the Walker County area and the girl still has no name to sit on her grave. A headstone in Oakwood Cemetery sits with the inscription “Unknown White Female, Died Nov. 1, 1980.”

On Nov. 1, 1980, a truck driver found the unknown white female laying in a grass area on the shoulder of Interstate 45 north of Huntsville. The girl died from asphyxiation due to strangulation after or whilst being raped.

Photographer: Amanda J. Raaska
The gravestone of Walker County Jane Doe found in the Oakwood Cemetery.

Thirty-nine years later, the case remains unsolved.

On Oct. 31, 1980, she arrived in Huntsville alone. It is estimated that she was between 15-20 years of age at the time of her death. She was dressed in blue jeans and a white knit sweater with leather sandal shoes.  

A few Huntsville citizens saw and talked to her at a gas station on the south side of the city and the Hitchin’ Post truck stop. At both locations, she asked how to get to the Ellis Unit, which houses around 2,000 male inmates. According to reports, an employee at the Hitchin’ Post asked the young girl if her parents knew where she was and Jane Doe responded, “Who cares?”

She never made it to the Ellis Unit, dying sometime that night. The employees she had spoken to helped identify her body after it was initially discovered. Later, the police took a picture of her to the prison, and no one claimed to know who Jane Doe was.

The case has been cold for 39 years and many officers have worked to find out who this girl was and why she was in Huntsville. In 2015, the investigators worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to create a photo of what they believe the victim looked like.

In 2015, the responsibility fell into the hands of Detective Thomas Bean with the Walker County Sheriff’s Office. He hopes to use DNA testing on samples from families that had a relative go missing during that time to find a match.

“At this point, I’m willing to look anywhere,” Bean told KBTX in 2018. “If there is a missing person from New York that looks like her I’m willing to look at it.”

Anyone with information pertaining to the case is asked to call the Walker County Sheriff’s Office at (936) 435-2400.

Why it matters:

In 2018, 40,428 children (0-17) went missing in Texas and 56 unidentified people were found in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety Missing Persons Clearinghouse. In Walker County, 52 juveniles and 11 adults went missing throughout the span of a year making a case like Jane Doe of Walker County not so out of the ordinary.


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