The Vernon County Sheriff’s Office released an updated drawing of Jane Doe, a woman who was bludgeoned to death and left along a rural roadside in May of 1984.
A forensic reconstruction artist at Arizona State University used measurements of the skull to create an accurate likeness.
“This is a very effective tool and this is the most accurate image that can be sought in this investigation,” Vernon County Lt. Investigator Scott Bjerkos said. “We hope that getting this to the public before the holidays, when people gather together, will lead to people being more thoughtful about their recollections and help us identify her.”
Three youths driving on Old Line Road four miles west of Westby came across Jane Doe’s body lying by the side of the gravel road, May 4, 1984, at 11:15 p.m. They drove to a nearby farm and reported it to the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office.
The body was found without its hands, which had been cut from the body and were not recovered.
Despite television reports of the murder at the time, no definitive information came forward regarding the woman, aged between 50 and 65, who had few distinguishing marks.
Authorities believe whoever dumped her body was almost seen by witnesses during an earlier attempt to dump the body the same night. Somehow, the perpetrator avoided a close call.
Since Jane Doe’s burial, several attempts have been made to revive the case in the media to find just one person who recognizes the facial reconstruction photo or circumstances regarding the case.
In 2012, local law enforcement made a push to get the story into media in the areas or Rochester, Minn.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Eau Claire, Wis.; and Madison, Wis. Jane Doe’s body was dumped just off U.S. Hwy. 14 and it wouldn’t be a difficult task for someone to drive the body from a larger metropolitan area and dump it in rural Vernon County.
In August, Jane Doe’s body was exhumed and DNA is still being tested by the University of North Texas, Bjerkos said.
With all of the DNA profiles that have been gathered since testing started in earnest over the past 20 years, it’s hoped a possible match or partial match of Jane Doe’s DNA, or evidence from her body, can provide more clues.
In the past 31 years the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office has worked through more than 4,000 leads in the case.
“We’d like to get her back to her relatives,” Bjerkos said. “We’d like to get a name on the headstone. We’d also like to hold the person responsible for this accountable.”
More information on the Jane Doe case can be found on the Vernon County Sheriff’s department’s website at vernonsheriff.com/unsolved/JaneDoe/JaneDoeSummary.pdf
Additional tips can be called to the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office at 608-638-5710 or Vernon County Crime Stoppers at 608-637-8477.
Jane Doe is one of two cold case murders with open investigations in Vernon County–the other being the circumstances surrounding the death of Terry Dolowy, whose body was found in rural Vernon County in 1985.
Investigators believe both Jane Doe and Dolowy were killed elsewhere, but their bodies were dumped in Vernon County.