Artist Reconstruction of the Walker County Jane DoeWalker County Texas Jane Doe Homicide and Unidentified Person’s CaseNovember 1, 1980 Huntsville, Walker County, Texas
By Chad M. Ard
Over the years I have reviewed many homicides, and missing persons, and unidentified person’s cases, and each one is perplexing and unfathomable. They all have plot twists, and challenges, especially when a crime is random, and a person seemingly vanishes into thin air, or when a person who had to come from somewhere, some place, had a mom or a dad, or a family or friends, is murdered or dies and there is no way to identify them and they’re buried in a plot with a nickname given to them according to a location they were found or by an item of clothing they were wearing. In many of these cases they are mourned by only a few townspeople and local law enforcement that have come out and will pay their respects and sometimes even pay the expense for the casket and burial and tombstone. Afterwards, the case grows cold, the victim, the unknown person buried in the local cemetery becomes part of the lore and maybe a few people will come out from time to time and pay tribute and leave flowers, and wonder who this person might have been and where they come from, and maybe they think about their own loved ones and hope a similar fate never befalls them. But these cases happen all across the country, even to this day, someone who has gone missing, or has only just been found murdered and is unidentified, thirty years from now they too will make up the long tragic listings on databases such as NAMUS or their DNA file kept in some vial in some national laboratory just waiting to find a match. In most of these cases all they are waiting on is someone to come forward and make a connection to them and give them a name and a story and a family, and a starting point and even perhaps a proper burial in their own family plot finally ending their long perilous journey back home, their lives taken by some brutal killer who never cared about the soul of the person, only the physical torture they could gain pleasure from, and because their crimes were random, and their victims meant nothing to them. Many of these killers may never be captured and justice rendered, maybe only in Hell, but even there it’s possible they may never suffer the same abuse they inflicted on their victims, so the only justice perhaps is to at least, if anything, is to help identify these victims, and bring them home, or find those who are still listed as missing, dead or alive and bring them home, and if anything bring closure to those living, their loved ones who live each day with an emptiness that only they can know. And this is what leads me to this particular case.
Known Facts Of The Case
Almost 36 years ago, on November 1st, 1980, a young nude female was discovered lying on the shoulder of the road by a truck driver driving Northbound on I-45 just a few miles north of Huntsville, Texas at around 920AM. The only thing she was wearing was a necklace made of gold chain and on it was a small rectangular brown pendant containing a smoky blue or brown glass stone, and near her body a pair of high-heeled red leather sandals with light brown straps. There was no identification, not even a tattoo, or birthmark on her body. Her ears were pierced, but she was wearing no earrings, and her toenails were painted pink. It was clear upon arrival by law enforcement the young woman had been the victim of a brutal attack that had left bruises across her body, her lips and right eyelid swollen, a bite mark was visible on her right shoulder.
Her body was covered and removed to the coroner’s where it would be noted that not only had she had been severely beaten, she had been sexually violated in both lower cavities by some type of blunt object, and lodged into her vaginal cavity were pantyhose and panties which the coroner believed the killer used to stop the bleeding so the body could be transported to where she was found on I-45. Even so, the autopsy showed no signs of DNA or biological evidence to suggest she was raped, although it’s not ruled out either.
Her age is unknown at the time of her death, but she is believed to have been between ages 14-20. She was estimated to have weighed about 105-115 pounds and her height was estimated to be five feet to five feet five inches. She had hazel colored eyes and her hair was light brown with a reddish tint and was about ten inches in length. There was a scar noted to be above her right eyebrow, and her right nipple was inverted. Her teeth were examined and there was evidence she had had dental work in the past and this might be an indication that she had been from a middle class family.
Her death was ruled a homicide and the cause of death was due to ligature strangulation with pantyhose and the time of death was recorded to have happened at around 3:00 AM, about six hours before her body was discovered on I-45.
To this date, the victim has never been identified, her death is still an open and active investigation, and her body is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas and her tombstone reads “Unknown White Female”.
In many cases like this, and unfortunately there are too many, the cases go cold at the moment the body is found. The only evidence is what’s found at the crime scene, and in most of those cases the evidence is miniscule, the victim was not a member of the community, no one remembers seeing them, and if they did, it was only in passing, maybe at night hitchhiking, or standing outside of a truck stop looking for a ride, but in many cases, no one remembers anything, and even if they did it might not help in identifying the victim or who killed them.
In the case of the Walker County Jane Doe (WJD), however, there were witnesses who remember seeing her the night before, Halloween night, October 31st, 1980 to be exact, and they remembered what she was wearing (jeans, dirty yellow pullover, white knit sweater with large pockets that went past her waist and even the red sandals that were discovered with her body), and remembered thinking she looked very young and was possibly a run away, and they also were able to identify her at the coroner’s as being the girl they had met the night befoe, but it was where the young female victim was going, the place she had asked directions for at two separate locations that makes this case perplexing and adds a sinister twist to WJD’S story: She was in town looking for directions to a Prison, not just any prison, but the Ellis Unit, which in 1980 housed the worst Texas inmates who had committed the most violent crimes, or as it’s better known: Death Row.
The first witness to come forward stating he had encountered the victim was the manager of the South End Gulf Station in downtown Huntsville, Texas on Sam Houston Ave. He remembered the time being around 6:30 that evening and even thought he’d seen her being dropped off by a man in a blue 1973 or 1974 Chevrolet Caprice with a light colored top. He would later tell the police that it looked like the yellow blouse she was wearing looked dirty or slept in, and that she had asked him for directions to the prison, which was approximately 15 minutes away if one were driving to the northeast of the gas station, but other than thinking her blouse appeared disheveled he assisted her by giving her directions and she turned away and left on foot heading north on Sam Houston Ave.
There is no time listed for the second encounter, but this encounter was witnessed by two people who came forward after the victim’s body was discovered, and they told a very similar story as the first witness, but were able to offer details that would seemingly help in, if not identifying her, but at least give a point of origin as to where the victim had been traveling from when she arrived in Huntsville, Texas that night.
Hitch ‘n’Post Truck Stop
This encounter took place a few miles northwest of the South End Gulf Station at a truck stop known as the Hitch ‘n’ Post (HP) on the north directional side of I-45 and in a direction heading away from the Ellis Prison Unit. It should be also noted that her body would be discovered the next morning only a few miles north from this truck stop.
It was at this truck stop the victim interacted with two witnesses, both waitresses who worked at the HP restaurant. Again, the victim approached one of the witnesses and asked for directions to the Ellis Unit, and one of the waitresses drew out a diagram for her. It is unknown whether the victim was asked by the waitress why she needed the directions or if the victim implied but the witness remembers the victim stating she was going to meet a friend there. However, one of the witnesses remembers being suspicious of the girl’s age and believed she may have been a runaway and asked the victim her age, to which the victim replied “19” and when this didn’t convince the waitress who believed the victim to be much younger, the waitress asked the victim “Do your parents know where you are?” The victim’s only response according to the witness was “Who cares?” Even so, the most telling part of this encounter is at some point during the victim’s interaction with the waitresses, either the victim again is asked, or the victim states, that she is from the Rockport/Aransas Pass area of Texas. (The importance of this information will be discussed in length later). So even though the witnesses are suspicious of the victim, they do not press for more information and the victim leaves the truck stop with better directions to the Ellis Unit, presumably on foot, and this is the victim’s last known encounter and whereabouts until she is discovered the next morning a few miles north.
After the witnesses came forward with statements claiming to have encountered the victim the night before and each giving the same details and most importantly that the victim was asking for directions to the Ellis Prison Unit and may have been from the Rockport/Aransas Pass area of Texas, Law Enforcement followed up on all these leads, interviewing prisoners, and prison guards at the Ellis Unit, and looking for anyone who might have known her from Rockport or Aransas Pass, even looking through high school yearbooks for any clues, and came up with nothing significant. However, there seemed to be some movement in the case in the late 80s when investigators noted similarities to another unsolved homicide and unidentified victim case that had happened one year to the date of the WJD murder. On November 1st 1979, in Georgetown, Texas, a couple hundred miles west of Huntsville, a young woman’s body was discovered wearing orange socks, but otherwise nude disposed of off an interstate overpass. Investigators in that case soon had a possible suspect in custody, a serial killer by the name of Henry Lee Lucas. Lucas would later confess to murdering the unidentified woman in Georgetown, as well as many other unsolved cases, and as a result was convicted in the State of Texas to death. However, this was quickly undone when researchers who began questioning the legitimacy of Henry Lee Lucas’s confessions began noting that Lucas may have been confessing to crimes he didn’t commit simply because he wanted better treatment by police, and investigators may have taken advantage of his eagerness to cooperate to close several cases that had been on the books for several years, and as a result then Governor George W. Bush vacated Lucas’s death sentence and reduced it to life in prison. Although, many investigator’s believed Lucas may have been responsible for the murder of WJD, when Lucas’s dental impression was compared to the bite mark on WJD’s right shoulder it did not match, and it most likely rules Lucas out as a suspect in this murder.
With Lucas ruled out, and no other solid evidence to go on, the case grew cold, and years later WJD’s body was exhumed to help investigators still longing to solve this brutal crime reexamine her body for anything that might have been missed, and even her high-heeled red leather shoes were sent to a laboratory to be examined for any biological evidence that may have been left by the killer or provide clues as to the identity of the victim, and all has come back with no results to provide answers to either question. However, in recent years, the victim’s DNA has been compared to several other missing girls, yet at this time there has been no match, the search continues, and the case is still open.
Nevertheless, after all these years, all that really seems to be known according to evidence is that for some unknown reason, the victim, presumably 19 years of age according to her own statement, on her own volition, hitchhiked from the Rockport/Aransas Pass area (again according to her own statement), to Huntsville, and after arriving in Huntsville and encountering the three aforementioned witnesses looking for directions to the Ellis Prison Unit to see a friend, ended up ironically encountering a killer who if were caught would most likely be sentenced to death at the very same prison the victim was allegedly going to meet a friend at.
Therefore this above scenario would be Hypothesis #1 and the operational theory is that a unknown female victim, age 19, departed location (A) Rockport/Aransas Pass area by means of hitchhiking, arrived at (B) Huntsville, Texas on Halloween October 31st 1980 and was dropped off by an unknown person, and her intended destination was (C) Ellis Prison Unit and at some point after leaving the HP, and at a time before 300AM November 1st 1980 by coincidence encountered her killer who presumably offered her a ride, grabbed her off the street while she was walking, or he was the “friend” she was supposed to meet once arriving at (C).
Hypothesis 1 however does not answer certain questions such as the witnesses at the HP stating the victim appeared to be much younger than 19, and if she was lying about her age, it calls into question everything the victim is reported to have said, and most especially her reasoning for needing directions to the Ellis Unit to meet a friend, and being from the Rockport/Aransas Pass Area. Therefore if Hypothesis 1 is misleading because the victim may have been lying about her intent, her age, and her point of origin, one has to call into question whether anything about the case, besides the “actual evidence” can be relied upon as credible.
Therefore to reach another hypothesis and create a workable operating theory, one must sort through what is known, what is unknown, what is credible, and what isn’t credible.
What is known is that an unknown white female between the ages of 14 and 20, was in Huntsville, Texas on October 31st 1980 on Halloween night, and she was seen by at least three credible witnesses that have described her clothing, and that she had been asking for directions to the Ellis Prison Unit. It is also known that at around 3:00 AM November 1st, 1980 the unknown white female was murdered by a ligature strangulation and sometime between 3 and 9 am her body was left on the side of I-45 a few miles north of Huntsville, Texas and that those three aforementioned witnesses were able to identify her as the unknown white female they had encountered the night before.
What is not known is the identity of the white female, her age, her point of origin, how she came to be in Huntsville Halloween night, the reason she needed to be at the Ellis Prison Unit, her movements throughout the evening, besides the two locations she encountered the three witnesses, or who killed her. As a result of the unknowns, it leads to several speculations and even suggests that the victim isn’t a credible witness if she is being dishonest about her point of origin, age, or reasoning for wanting to directions to the Ellis Prison Unit.
Guiding Hands: What led WJD to Huntsville, TX?
To better understand and help narrow down the identity of the WJD one place to begin is to try and determine the multiple variables that brought her to be in Huntsville, Texas that evening by looking at these three areas:
(A) Point of Origin(B) Huntsville(C) Ellis prison Unit
Each one of these areas is important to understand, because if she lied about (A) it could change the answer to (B) and her reasons for needing to be at (C). Or if she was being honest about (A) and being dishonest about (C) it could change the answer on how she arrived at (B). However if she is being honest about (A) and (C) the question then becomes why has she never been identified as having come from (A) and what would be a motivating factor for someone to travel to a Prison on Halloween night, or for that matter any other night, to presumably meet a friend, but instead ends up meeting up with a sadistic killer who had they been captured for this murder would have been most likely sent to the very prison she was intending to go meet a friend at.
So the first place to begin is (A) Point of origin and the guiding hands that led her to (B) Huntsville, Texas. Presumably based on eyewitness accounts, the victim appeared to be disheveled (at least her yellow blouse looked slept in) and the first witness stated that he believed she was dropped off around 630PM. So the theory, based on this evidence, would be that she has apparently hitchhiked from (A) to arrive at (B) Huntsville and her intended destination according to witnesses who interacted with her was (C) Ellis Prison Unit.
1. (A) is the unknown in this equation because when she arrived at (B) it is presumed she had hitchhiked there and was dropped off by someone, and we know she intended to go to (C) because she informed witnesses of this intention.
To solve (A) according to eyewitness accounts the victim is either asked or on her own states she is from the Rockport/Aransas Pass area of Texas. It is important to note that the victim may have offered this statement and wasn’t asked directly as to where she was from. If she volunteered this information versus was asked and then responded to the question it would seem it might be an honest answer, but if she volunteered this information it’s possible she is being honest, but it’s also possible it was a rehearsed statement.
If the answer to (A) is a question/response it makes her statement seem honest because if she were lying about this, there are several larger cities in Texas one would assume would have been easier for her to turn to and suggest a city like Dallas or Houston etc and the answer Rockport/Aransas Pass would seem a more intimate answer. However if the victim volunteers this information, as in she walks in and says ‘excuse me, I’m lost, I’m from the Rockport/Aransas Pass area” although it’s quite possible this is an honest answer, it’s possible this was a coached response or a dishonest answer. One could see this as a way to elude or be evasive, as she does later on when asked about her parents and why she wants to go to the Ellis Unit to meet a friend, even though that answer, at least in the context of a young female wanting to meet a friend at a prison in the middle of the night on Halloween is not much of an answer and makes the statement seem suspicious and dishonest.
In this approach, when the victim is volunteering, she’s looking to establish a background voluntarily, in the attempt to get what she wants (directions to C) by appearing sincere and betting that her sincerity alone will be enough to get her answers without having to divulge any further information. Because when this attempt fails and the witnesses press for more answers she becomes evasive towards them. However, it has to be noted that victim may have stated some other point of origin and the waitresses upon reflection stated what she thought she had heard was Rockport and because of this it may have hindered the investigation instead of helping it.
2. If (A) is unknown and unreliable, she did still come from someplace to arrive at (B) and the theory has been she hitchhiked from (A) to arrive in Huntsville. According to the first witness, the manager of the South End Gulf Station, he believed he seen the victim being dropped off by someone in a car. Then the victim approaches the manager and asks for directions to (C) which the manager gives her and presumably after the victim obtains these directions she sets back off on her journey by walking.
This proposes a possible problem of the original Hypothesis. If the victim has hitchhiked from (A) to (B) successfully, why would she not be able to convince the driver who drops her off at the Gulf gas station to continue on to (C) but instead is dropped off and decides to find (C) on her own and by walking. This also calls into question as to if the victim has indeed hitchhiked, why not once she is dropped off at (B) does she only ask for directions and not ask someone for a ride to (C). And even more, if after asking for directions and not also a ride, how does she end up in the company of her attacker if she isn’t looking for a ride and the safest place to possibly obtain a ride might be to ask someone in a public location?
In other words, if the victim’s intent is legitimate, and that she was expected to arrive at (C) why be elusive about the reason, why not ask for a ride to (C) at the Gulf Station, HP or any place in between those two locations but instead only wants directions. Furthermore if her being there was expected by someone at (C) why was she not able to reach out to that person(s) or had prearranged a meeting so she’d have been met once she arrived at (b)?
This may suggest that her reasoning for being at (B) and traveling to (C) was not prearranged in advance, meaning whoever was at (C) either did not exist or was not expecting her, and could mean that the reason she was being elusive was to protect someone else’s reasoning and she was a pawn doing the bidding of someone else, quite possibly her killer.
It would seem that the harder part of the victim’s journey would have been attaining a ride by hitchhiking from (A) to (B) yet she was persistent enough to make that happen yet after arriving at (B) and as a result she was now within 15 miles of (C) she is not as persistent and at this point her journey comes to an end when she is presumably abducted and then killed. In other words she is persistent and headstrong enough to make it from (A) to (B) but once at (B) only persistent enough to ask for directions only to (C) instead of a ride to that location.
As a result, we can improve upon this new workable operating theory and hypothesize that when the victim arrived in Huntsville (B) she was with someone she knew and not traveling by herself, and the reason this theory seems the most plausible is that if she had good reason to be going to (C) and had been persistent enough to hitchhike from (A) why become evasive once arriving at (B) and only ask for directions as opposed to doing the obvious thing, if in fact she had already hitchhiked from (A), had a legitimate reason for going to (C) and instead of asking for directions, also ask for a ride to (C).
Therefore, as a result of these calculations, one could surmise that the victim did not depart (A) alone and was with someone she trusted and had been invited perhaps under false pretenses, or departed (A) by force and was under duress.
Another way to explain this theory is that once the victim arrives in (B) at the South End Gulf Station, she is about 15 miles southwest from (C). Yet for some unknown reason, and even though there had to be other businesses open and presumably being that it was Halloween night there would have been people out and about that evening, in the direction she was supposed to go in, she isn’t persistent or personable enough to approach any one while walking away from the South End Gulf Station and with directions provided to her by the manager to get to location (C) instead the victim travels North West from her original drop off point and away from the center of the town of Huntsville back towards the interstate and ends up at HP needing better directions and at this point after having already walked several miles and realizing that finding location (C) is more challenging then she had expected again does not ask for a ride. So again the victim is being consistent about needing to be at location (C), is still lost, but not persistent to ask for a ride to that location if in fact her reasoning for being at location (C) was legitimate. This information seems more indicative of a person driving in circles versus walking in circles and the reason she’s not asking for a ride is that she has a ride and whoever she is with is also lost or has a reason why they want the victim to be remembered asking for directions to location (C).
For example, if a person was in New York City in the Wall Street district in the southern part of Manhattan and were wanting to walk to Times Square in the northern part of Manhattan, yet were directionally challenged, they might be inclined to approach people along their path to inquire as to whether or not they were still heading in the right direction. In this particular case, the female leaves presumably on foot with directions to location (C) and heads off in that direction, but does not seem to bother anyone along that route, whether it be a pedestrian or even walk into a business or other type of establishment and clarify that she is still heading in the correct direction, and instead ends up further away from location (C) at a truck stop on the Interstate. And based on this evidence, it seems to suggest she most likely was not hitchhiking between the Gulf Station or the HP, because once she does arrive at the HP she again does not ask for a ride but better directions. So in light of this, it might show that although she may have not been seen in the company of another person, and the manager at the Gulf Station believed he witnessed her exiting a vehicle and then setting out on foot after he gave her directions, that she may have well been in the company of another person, traveling in a vehicle, yet for some reason her companion(s) stay out of eye contact of all three witnesses.
This also may explain why she would state voluntarily or under questioning she had traveled from Rockport/Aransas Pass or perhaps she had been misheard by witnesses. She may have done so under duress, she may have been honest at that point and stated where she was from but had been misheard, or perhaps she felt uneasy asking for directions to the prison because of the suspicious nature and someone in an attempt to sooth her may have suggested if she go in and start off by saying she’s lost and is from a small town they may trust her sincerity and give her the directions and leave it at that. Yet, if she makes this statement under duress, this poses another question, because if at the point she entered the truck stop she is already under duress and had been kidnapped, why would her captor risk sending her in alone to ask for directions and risk her turning him in? However, how odd this scenario may seem, it cannot be ruled out, because it is completely plausible that she could be under control of her killer by this time, and he has control over her movements through some type of credible threat or some other unknown reason that made her fearful of turning him in.
Nevertheless, another scenario is she was with someone she did not feel was a threat to her, but still felt uncomfortable going in and asking for directions because she knew that asking for directions to a prison seemed odd, so the person she’s with tries and soothes her and tells her to go in and say that she is from (A) and needing directions to (C) and they shouldn’t give her any problems. So using the town Rockport/Aransas Pass, another town entirely and it was misheard by witnesses, it would still give the impression as being sincere than saying Dallas or Houston.
So in this case the victim is insecure about asking for directions because she knows it seems odd, and refuses, and her companion says to comfort her just tell them you’re from a small town and you’re lost and instead they will take you at your word and not question your motives. The victim agrees, follows through, yet the witnesses still are not convinced and they question her further and the victim becomes caustic and elusive at that point and the original message of sincerity stops when the witnesses probe for more answers. If this is true it suggests that the only honest thing the victim says is her desire to attain directions to location (C) but otherwise becomes frustrated when her sincerity is questioned.
Therefore to move this workable operational theory forward, it could be argued that the victim had already been kidnapped prior to arriving at (B) and every statement she made to witnesses was under duress, or that the victim was perhaps invited by someone she trusted or at the least by someone she knew to some extent and had asked her to go with him/her/group to (C) and she was under no duress, but frustrated because she was having to ask for directions to a place she didn’t necessarily want to go to, which made her seem elusive. In other words she is doing a favor for someone or feels obligated to help this person.
Another piece of evidence that needs to be examined is the fact that the victim, according to witnesses does not appear to be on an extended journey. No one states seeing the victim with a purse, or bed roll, or backpack and instead she is wearing high-heeled sandals. It would seem that this was an unplanned visit or one in which the victim would only be at for a short while and be taken back home afterwards but does not suggest that she had prepared to be hitchhiking for a lengthy period of time from (A) to (B) or suggest that she had prepared to be stuck at (C) for any period of time.
Therefore, the operational theory is that the victim was not there because she needed to be there for her own reasons, but was helping someone else out or had been invited there or had been kidnapped and was under duress at the time she arrived at (B). She did not appear to be prepared to stay for an extended time and when questioned was evasive as to her reasoning and it’s also reasonable to imply that no one was expecting her at location (C) and that her reason for being there was because someone invited her there, kidnapped her and forced her to be there, and she was in the company of that person and not there because of her own purpose.
Therefore, Hypothesis 2 is that at some point during the day of October 31st Halloween night 1981,the victim was approached by a friend or a casual acquaintance and asked to accompany him./her/group to Huntsville, Texas, Ellis Unit. It’s possible the friend had invited the victim to a Halloween party that was to be held near there or the friend/acquaintance had given some other reason, such as being there was work related. The victim obliges because they have nothing better to do and a road trip might be fun or feels obligated because the friend is an authority figure or the victim was engaged in a criminal activity and or working with whomever she was with. But for whatever reason, the victim is only in Huntsville by invitation or obligation only and not because she needs to be there or wants to be there because of her own reasoning. In this scenario, the friend/acquaintance is luring the victim to Huntsville Texas and subsequently making sure they aren’t seen with her and asking her to go into the truck stop and ask for directions.
Hypothesis 3 is that at some point either on October 31st 1980 or at any time before that date, the victim had been kidnapped, and held against her will until Halloween night 1980, when she was driven to (B) and under duress ordered to ask for directions to (C) and after having achieved this objective, her captor carries out his plan to kill her.
Hypothesis 2 and 3 has similar implications and conclusions, where in either case, the victim was not traveling alone on the evening of October 31st 1980, her murder was most likely premeditated and not as a result of coincidence, and in both instances the killer(s) had control over the victim or had earned the trust of the victim and she felt obligated or trusted the person(s) enough to do their bidding and travel with them from (A) to Huntsville, and was willing to accompany them to (C).
However, in each Hypothesis it may explain why she hasn’t been identified, because it’s possible she was a juvenile who had run away from home or facility and had a history of this behavior and was essentially given up on by her parents or someone who was charged with looking after her and as a result she turned to petty crimes, or prostitution and lived on the run, from place to place, and essentially disappears until the day she reappears in Huntsville, Texas. But, then again, it should be noted that she may have also been a legal adult, and had been honest when asked about her age by the witness at HP, yet also had been living a high risk lifestyle for a few years and had cut ties with her family and as a consequence still ended up in the same situation where no one reported her missing, or even if they did, and someone is looking for her, they may have lost contact for such a period of time that the details of when she went missing are unknown and her appearance may have changed dramatically since the last time she was seen.
Hypothesis 1 as a workable operating theory: Although this hypothesis cannot be ruled out, it operates under too many assumptions. It assumes that the victim for some unknown reason, and ill-prepared hitchhiked to a Huntsville, Texas, to presumably meet up with a friend at a Prison without making prior arrangements or being prepared for once having arrived to meet this friend to have a backup plan in case the friend was not there or did not want to see her. If this is the assumption then it is possible that this friend may have had a reason for not wanting to see her and if she did eventually meet up with him or her or they, wanted her to leave and when she refused this friend killed her. However, if this were the scenario the “friend” would be taking a risk of placing her body in a place that was easily discoverable and not hiding her away to keep anyone who may have known of their relationship from connecting the murder to that friend. It also does not explain that if the victim had indeed left a specific point of origin to go to Huntsville and perhaps surprise an unsuspecting “friend” what circumstances would cause her to never be identified, because one could speculate she may have told someone at (A) she was intending to travel to (C) to meet this “friend” or at least one could speculate that the “friend” who disposed of her body in such a easily discoverable manner did not know she had informed anyone beforehand of her intentions. This Hypothesis also suggests that her killer did not know her prior to this and the killing was random and it happened after she had left the HP. This scenario also seems the most steeped in irony, because if in fact she had traveled from (A) to (B) to end up at location (C) the Ellis Prison Unit, she ended up encountering a killer who if had been caught for this crime would have most likely been sentenced to the very same prison she was intending to go to. This theory seems the most unlikely because of all the assumptions one has to accept to make this plausible.
Hypothesis 2 and 3 as a workable operating theory: the only difference between these two Hypothesis is that in the second Hypothesis the victim is lured by someone or some group, authority figure or someone she trusts or perhaps is obligated to for some reason another to take the trip to Huntsville, Texas on Halloween night and her murder was premeditated by the person(s) or at some point after arriving in Huntsville the person(s) then decided to kill her for some unknown reason, or her death resulted from perhaps a Halloween prank that was originally designed to scare or her or initiate her into some group and it went wrong, or the victim may have voluntarily went along because she was playing out a sexual fantasy with her partner and she died as a result; and in Hypothesis 3 the victim was abducted at point (A) taken to Huntsville under duress, forced to enter into the two establishments to find directions to the prison unit either because the killer(s) was lost, or because the killer(s) was acting out a fantasy and wanted their to be witnesses who remembered the victim wanting directions to the Prison Unit.
Hypothesis 2 and 3 seems to offer the least assumptions and while it may not answer many of the unknowns about the events that took place the evening of October 31st 1980 and led to the death of the WJD it does in some cases answer some questions such as why the victim is presumed to have hitchhiked to (B) to reach (C) but why at no point does she ask for a ride once she in Huntsville but seems to be driving in circles instead of walking in circles because she was traveling with someone. It might also answer as to why the victim is seemingly being elusive or evasive when she approaches the two waitresses at the HP, because she was not only lost, her companion was lost, but she knew that wanting directions to the Ellis Prison Unit would seem suspicious but was not worried about the waitresses pressing the issue by contacting authorities because the victim could easily slip away and back into the vehicle she was traveling with.However it’s quite possible that the victim was attempting to bring attention to herself so the waitresses would call the law. Regardless of this it also explains why the victim does not seem prepared for a long journey or an extended stay. It could also explain more about her identity and who she was traveling with and why the killer(s) stayed out of eye contact and convinced the victim to ask for directions, (which most likely the killer(s) probably never had planned to have to do, but once they were lost had no choice but to). As a result, Hypothesis 2 and 3 seem to be the best workable operating theory because it presents the least assumptions and seemingly answers more questions than it asks.
Therefore, trying to answer the aforementioned equation to plug in the answers for (A) point of origin, (B) Huntsville, and (C) needing to be at the Ellis Prison Unit prove to be difficult, and the best way to work this case is backwards from where the body was discovered and the manner of her death, back to the HP, the Gulf Station, and back to, and if possible to (A), the victim’s point of origin.
Disposal: shoulder of I-45 North directional side a few miles from last sighted location, nude. 3AM to 920AM
Crime scene: unknown
TIME OF ABDUCTION (PRESUMABLY) 630PM OCTOBER 31ST 1980, TO 300AM NOVEMBER 1ST 1980
Point of Origin: unknown (possibly Rockport/Aransas Pass)
Age: 14-20 (19?)
Cause of Death: Ligature Strangulation w/pantyhose
Other injuries: sexual assault with blunt object to both lower body cavities, bite mark on right shoulder, severe beating to body and face. No biological evidence found, but rape cannot be excluded
Items found at disposal of body: high-heeled sandals, necklace on body, panties and panties hose lodged in body most likely to prevent bleeding during transportation to disposal site.
There is no mention in the publicly available information concerning whether the victim was dirty as if the assault had taken place indoors or outdoors, no indication that the victim had any drugs or alcohol in her system, no indication whether wrists or ankles had any signs of being tied or bound in any fashion, no indication as if there were any signs the victim struggled with killer(s), no indication of what type of blunt object was used in the assault or if any weapons may have been used to cause the bruising no indication if the victims injuries were sustained post-mortem. (in spite of this lack of details about the victim, it may be possible to deduce that there is no evidence of the above being applicable to this investigation)
Nevertheless the lack of there being any information to there being defensive wounds, any type of ligature marks on her ankles or wrists, or any indication of soil or grass stains on the body to show whether she may have been attacked outdoors or indoors, these details or the lack thereof, are missing out of the public information because of evidentiary reasons or because none of these aforementioned details were noted and makes it difficult to hypothesize who her killer(s) may have been.
Even so, if the the lack of detail is because the injuries weren’t noted because there were no signs of the aforementioned possible missing information, then it does help hypothesize who the killer(s) might have been.
If for example, unless the victim’s injuries were made post-mortem, it would mean the victim was strangled, and then assaulted and this would suggest the killer was alone and the need to restrain the victim was unnecessary.
However, if the victim was assaulted and then killed one would assume she’d have had to be restrained by some means, yet there is no indication in the public record to note any bruising to show how she was restrained. This either suggests that her killer was able to subdue her and subsequently assault her without necessarily having to restrain the victim by other means then brute force, or perhaps the victim was attacked by multiple people and she may have been restrained by the group and unable to move because she was essentially blocked and held down by multiple people (2 or more).
But, this could also support the idea that one person, in an enclosed type of area, such as the cab of a truck or back of some type of van could have been able to subdue the victim and restrain her by essentially giving her no place to run.
Therefore as a result of there being no information suggesting defensive struggling or evidence of how the victim was restrained it’s possible that the victim was abducted by killer(s) and her murder took place inside a vehicle. There is no evidence to support that the victim was subdued by being drugged or she had been intoxicated.
Maybe, even more telling in this murder is that although this attack is brutal, there are nor reported injuries such as broken bones or there being any stab wounds to the body, or even the lack of biological evidence is notable. It would seem that if there had been more than one killer there’d be several different types of injuries, and as the assault went on the brutality would have intensified. This lack of evidence to suggest that there may have been only one person who assaulted the victim does not mean there weren’t two or more active participants however, but that one person was the aggressor and the other had been more passive or even the driver of the vehicle while the attack took place.
One question that needs to be asked is were the panty hose used to strangle the victim hers or had they been brought by the killer(s). This alone suggests a few telling possibilities about the killer(s) because if the panty hose weren’t the victims this was something the killer(s) brought which indicates the killer(s) may have premeditated this murder, or it’s possible that one of the assailants was a female accomplice who had inadvertently worn panty hose and subsequently they were used to strangle the victim.
This brings up witness statements made concerning the victim from HP and the Gulf Station, and evidence noted at autopsy, was that the victim was wearing jeans and also wearing high-heeled sandals, and she was seen carrying the shoes by at least one witness, and noted at autopsy was that the victim had painted her toenails pink. Is this information indicative of a person wearing panty hose if she is wearing sandals and also walking without shoes on? It’s quite possible that she was wearing panty hose because of it being cooler in October that particular date, or this may have been a personal preference of the victim. If this is the case, then the panty hose were removed by the killer(s) from the victim and subsequently used to strangle her with and again does not tell us much about the killer besides that the killer(s) were not that organized and this was not premeditated or even if it had been, the method of killing was improvised.
The most workable hypothesis would then be that the killer(s) may have premeditated the murder but weren’t well organized and only used what was on hand to orchestrate the attack.
The disposal of the victim’s body on the side of the interstate seems indicative of other similar crimes in which have been theorized having been committed by truck drivers. There is also some similarities to a killing that had had occurred one year to the date before this one a few hundred miles west of Huntsville in Georgetown, Texas. It is unknown however, if the two crimes are related. However, it would seem the more personal the victim, the killer would be more inclined to hide the body instead leaving her in a location she’d be easily discovered and the person also takes a risk of being spotted by someone disposing her body. So even in this instance where it would suggest the victim had been attacked randomly, and the means of her disposal by her killer were by someone who seemingly had no personal connection to the victim, it by no means is conclusive that the victim had not known her killer(s) it would just indicate perhaps that the killer(s) relationship with the victim was of some other type of nature such as business related or authoritative, the killer knew important and/or intimate details about her and he knew she would not be identified and the killer(s) lured her into his vehicle and to Huntsville that evening. Nevertheless, this is one of the most elusive details of this case: did the victim hitchhike to Huntsville and subsequently by coincidence and because of her vulnerability by being alone that night make her easy prey to encounter her killer(s) or had the victim been lured to Huntsville that evening and arrived in town with her killer(s) under some false pretense. If the answer is that it was coincidence, this would be one of the most ironic of murders. If the answer is the latter than this changes the entire investigation and assumes that wherever the victim was from and whoever she was with, there’s a possibility she had had known her killer(s) prior to the time she was murdered.
So, presumably, based on the evidence, the killer(s) was not well organized, and this is based on the fact that the killer(s) only used what was on hand to assault and murder the victim (except for there has been no indication of what type of blunt object(s) were used in the sexual assault) one could assume however that this too was something the killer(s) had on hand inadvertently and was not premeditated. If this assault and murder were not well organized in advance then it may be safe to assume that the disposal of the victim’s body was also not well thought out and it too was not premeditated.
With that said, again one as to assume that the victim was unknown to the killer(s) until some point between 630pm October 31st 1980 and 300am November 1st 1980 and at some point between that time period the victim was abducted or lured in or had approached her killer(s) to obtain a ride or prior to 630pm when the victim was first witnessed at the South End Gulf Station she was already with her killer(s) and they were able to not only go unnoticed, but seemingly able to convince the victim to ask for directions while they stayed out of view. And although the first scenario is possible and it is dependent on having to explain why then would the victim put herself in that place to be vulnerable and her intended destination was to be at the Ellis Prison Unit for some unknown reason.
Otherwise, the only other conclusion would be that the victim was not in Huntsville alone, her reason for needing directions to the prison were not her own reasons, and her murder would not be a coincidence at all and her fate even before coming to Huntsville had already been sealed. And this hypothesis seems the most logical of conclusions.
In reality, for the victim to have been in the company of someone and not seen by the Gulf station manager or the witnesses at the HP doesn’t mean they were actually paying that close attention either. So even though the victim isn’t seen with anyone or appear to have been with anyone doesn’t mean that if the victim were with someone they were necessarily going out of their way to stay hidden, but the witnesses failed to see them or pay that close of attention to the victim.
But there is something significant about the victim’s stated destination (Ellis Prison Unit) that is baffling if in fact she had been traveling alone or had hitchhiked to arrive in Huntsville. Even so, if one were to suggest that the evidence supports the theory she were not in Huntsville alone and were with someone else then she is merely a person looking for directions for her companions purpose. In this theory, it explains away any holes that might be presented based on the idea that the victim for some unknown reason needed to be at the prison when the suggestion on its face seems unlikely.
So if this is the case, what motive would her companion(s) have for wanting directions to the prison? The variables can be as simple as teenagers looking to be mischievous on Halloween night, to something more sinister like the killer(s) for some reason wanting the victim to be remembered by witnesses for wanting to visit the prison and the killer is acting out some sadistic fantasy. Nevertheless, the latter theory still support the idea that the killer(s) is unorganized and it seems more likely that the killer(s) had presented some reason to want to visit the prison, the victim went along, after arriving in Huntsville they became lost and needed directions and then after obtaining directions and possibly arriving at the prison, the killer(s) then acting on some impulse attacks the victim. Even so, this doesn’t mean that the killer(s) hadn’t conceived of attacking the victim at the prison beforehand, but only that the killer(s) had improvised or acted on impulse as the events unfolded and the opportunity presented itself. In this case the killer(s) has some fascination with the prison and were somehow able to convince the victim to go along under some false pretense.
None of this explains how it is the victim could have gone missing without being reported or why she has gone unidentified for 36 years. But it could suggest the idea that the killer(s) were very much aware of the fact the victim’s identity at least to the extent they knew she was someone who had been living a high risk lifestyle, was a runaway, and her killer knew of her having no one who would miss her if she went missing.
So the operational theory is that the killer(s) had some fascination with prison and wanting to be there and lured the victim there that evening under false pretenses and that the killing had been some idea the killer(s) had beforehand but only acted out on the crime as the events unfolded and the opportunity presented itself. He used only items he had in hand or the victim had on her person. The attack then was premeditated but not organized and at any point the killer(s) could have backed out unless the opportunity presented itself.
Who is the Victim?This leaves explaining the victim’s age, and this is more difficult to discern. It’s quite possible she is being honest, because of her small stature and baby face, she has probably become very defensive about her age; however, she has every incentive to lie if in fact she is a juvenile, because this alone could arouse enough suspicion for witnesses to contact authorities. The victim’s naivete is not necessarily indicative of a young adolescent or a female who was a legal adult because she could have been naive and trusting no matter her age.
But her age is an important detail to try and determine because if for example she were 19 at the time of her death, she would have been a legal adult and seemingly could have been so far removed from loved ones and family that they may have never reported her missing or even if they had may haven’t realized it until after 1980. So in this instance you might have a case in which a family member reports her missing at a later date but doesn’t recall when she was last seen and the details would be nonspecific.
There is something significant about this case, and that was she was seen alive and presumably alone the night she was murdered and she had encountered at least three witnesses. Now one has to assume that when the witnesses speak to the would be victim, they had no reason to remember the conversations verbatim because at that point the victim was merely a customer looking for directions and had she had not been discovered murdered hours later they’d have forgotten this conversation and perhaps the victim. However, once the victim’s body is discovered the witnesses become very important and can offer details that might help solve the case or provide vital clues, but sometimes a witness’s eagerness to provide assistance could hinder a case and it’s possible that in this case Rockport may have been mistaken for for some place else. Nevertheless, if Rockport is what the victim said, then this could also be a lie, and it’s hard to determine whether or not what actually happened or what was said.
But assuming that the victim had every incentive to lie but at the same time had no real reason to if she had no reason to lie, these two variables change the case completely. If the victim is lying about one thing one could assume she is lying about everything and you can’t trust anything she is saying, but if she is being partially honest, and lying, what circumstances would be for her to say anything at all? So if she is honestly looking for the Ellis Prison Unit and her reasoning is legitimate one would assume she may not have needed directions at all and only a phone number to the prison which she could have called and tried to reach out to who she was intending to see. One could also assume that if she has indeed hitchhiked from (A) and her goal was to arrive at (C) she would have been better off getting a ride to (C) instead of only asking for directions.
So for instance if she is asking for directions to the prison for someone else’s reasoning say her travel companion, she is being honest, but not necessarily being specific as to the reasoning and therefore the evidence on its face suggests she is on her own and looking for this prison. But just because the victim isn’t being specific doesn’t mean she is lying or being honest, it just means she is heading in this direction to (c) because whoever she is traveling with has guided her there. However when the victim is challenged by witnesses she seemingly becomes more elusive or caustic towards them as in, just give me directions I don’t need you to preach to me, as in her purpose in her mind is genuine, but when her efforts of sincerity are questioned she is bothered by this and mocks the witnesses who seem genuinely worried, but the victim only sees this as an attempt to chastise her. This again does not help explain her age, but only appears to suggest that her sincerity is only as real as the sincerity she feels she is receiving. In other words the victim acknowledges in some way or another that her intended destination is on its face a strange destination and as a result because she is lost and presumably alone and depending on others to arrive at her destination, she is forced to interact with the witnesses instead of able to just get to (c) with no assistance, but even when she knows that she can’t find (c) she doesn’t feel the desire to console the witnesses worries, but instead treats them as if they are mocking her, yet it was her that came to them for help.
In this instance she is very defensive. As in I’m capable or I don’t need all this other nonsense just the directions, even though I realize that my destination and asking for directions to it are odd. Or in other words I know what I’m doing seems stupid or strange, but I’m doing it anyways. What then would make her so defensive yet at the same time seemingly dependent on others but not so dependent in which she tries and console their fears because the thing she is trying to achieve sounds strange, but does the opposite and snaps back at them for not trusting her original premise of sincerity. So she’s essentially asking to be trusted as in she’s confidant in her objective even if the premise sounds strange. However, once again, she doesn’t ask for a ride, yet she is seemingly confidant and self assured of reaching her objective yet she still is captured by her killer.
Therefore, she trusts herself but does not trust the people she has to encounter, but seemingly once she gets to her intended destination all questions will be answered and she will be safe. Again this premise seems to support the idea that she knows what she is asking for to the average person seems strange but does it anyways because she is dependent upon others to some degree to ascertain directions, but not dependent enough to be more specific and qualify her answers that might justify her intentions, and as a result this lends credence to the idea that she is not alone and doesn’t necessarily need help but directions only and she doesn’t need to explain her reasons because the reasons aren’t hers, but whoever she is with.
In this premise she is basically saying don’t worry about me, I’m a big girl, I know what I’m doing, yet she is still the one who is lost and has seemingly hitchhiked and is asking for a directions to a place her own actions indicate that she knows on its face seems strange. Yet only a few hours later this same confidant and cocky young girl the waitresses encountered asking for directions would be dead at the hands of a killer who seemingly could have been an inmate already at the Ellis Unit. This again, no matter how many variables are looked at it seems to indicate the victim was not alone and whoever she was with killed her. Yet her would be killer seemingly had earned the victims trust enough to do his bidding and travel with him to Huntsville Texas.
Again, there are multiple reasons to help explain why the victim was never seen with anyone, but when one comes to the conclusion that she was most likely with someone, and this someone most likely killed her then this unknown travel companion knew her before she arrived in Huntsville and it would be safe to assume that the reason for being in Huntsville were the killers reasons and that the victim’s fate was sealed before arriving in Huntsville, but the question then becomes at what point before Huntsville was her fate sealed.
If one can conclude that there had to be some element of trust established between the victim and her killer before arriving in Huntsville it might indicate that the victim and her killer had known each other or of each other and had some business or casual relationship prior to even the day of the murder. Even so it should not be excluded that the killer and the victim had met the day of the murder.
Final Operating Theory: Both Hypothesis 2 and 3 Answer the most questions and operates under the least assumptions, and although neither answer where it is WJD originated from or her age, these two hypothesis support the idea that she most likely did not not originate from Rockport/Aransas Pass Texas, and she knew her killer prior to the day she was murdered. She was most likely reported missing at an earlier date and was most likely between the ages of 14-16. She was most likely a run away, and had a prior history or running away and most likely had lived in youth homes in the past. Her killer may have kidnapped her prior to 1980 or had encountered her while she was a runaway and took her in, but he knew details about her that would make it difficult to identify her.
It is possible that the killer of the WJD was also responsible for the murder a year earlier in Georgetown, Texas. It’s also possible that the killer lived around the Austin, Georgetown, Round Rock Texas area, and as a result it’s possible that the victim had met the killer in this area or the killer had taken her to this area by 1979.
This theory suggests that the killer is also responsible for at least one other murder that happened one year to the date before in Georgetown, Texas, and that the killer lived near the crime scene of that murder. The killer is sadistic and predatory but is able to curb is desires for extended periods of time, he isn’t well organized, but has learned to suppress his sexual deviations or anger but also knows that if he is unable to stop he will be arrested and most likely be sentenced to do time at the Ellis Unit and most likely will be there on death row.
In this case,however, the most likely scenario is that the victim was a runaway at some point prior to the day she was murdered and may have been reported missing at an earlier date probably within 2 years before 1980 and had moved to Texas on her own as a runaway, traveled with someone or a group of people or had been abducted by a personn(s) and was taken to Texas under duress or under false pretenses. In the final analysis the victim was a runaway prior to 1980 as a juvenile and taken by her killer between 1978 and 1980 and this someone kept her very close, maybe even home schooling her and moved to Texas for work or moved around often and finally settled in Texas. Then for some reason or another, the killer decides he needs to kill her, or has to be done with her because he feels the pressure of keeping her and believes law enforcement will eventually find him out.
Although it’s possible the victim is a legal adult, the operating theory is in this particular case the victim was younger and between 14 & 16 and was in the care of her killer prior to 1980. So in this scenario the victim has been reported missing at some place by someone but the known details of her are sparse.
If the victim is a minor, and even if she had runaway, someone most likely reported her being missing, unless the person who had her in their custody killed her. They would not report her missing because the manner in which she came to be in that person(s) custody would have been illegal. Based on this assumption, then the victim would have been reported missing at an earlier time or never at all, based again on who had taken her.
All theories listed on this site are of my own and I do not represent Law Enforcement. If you have any information concerning these crimes or the identity of this victim please contact Law Enforcement.
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