(Introduction to show begins)
TODD MATTHEWS (Missing Pieces Host): I'm Todd Matthews. This is Missing Pieces and tonight we have Detective James Scharf with us. Welcome, James.
TODD: How are you doing?
DET. SCHARF: I'm doing fine.
TODD: It's a very conversational show that we have here, so we're just going to have a real quick conversation. Go over Jane Doe you have from back in 1977. We have her full description on the website that everybody can read if they're listening to or reading this interview and there has been a recent push to identify this Jane Doe.
DET. SCHARF: Yes. Something that came to my attention on February 5th of this year; I'd received a phone call from Missy Deslonde…
DET. SCHARF: …she's an area director for the Doe Network, and she had been looking at her site and found that there was a girl named Cherry Greenman.
DET. SCHARF: …that she thought might be our Jane Doe, and she wanted to know if we had ruled her out yet and if we had any DNA on file for our Jane Doe.
TODD: And that's basically…you know I'm also a Doe Network member and one of the administrators, and we…that's basically what we do, we pitch potential matches to law enforcement with unidentified or missing persons as we try match them together and that was part of her normal routine to do that, and to get a little bit more data, but it seems like it kind of got things moving a little bit on that case.
DET. SCHARF: Well, yes. What actually had been going on was that my previous partner in the cold case team, Joe Ward, had made some enquiries with the University of North Texas on what they would need to get DNA on file for this Jane Doe, and all that we had in evidence here to work with was a scalp and a bone chip, so he needed to have someone be able to verify that those were human and they had DNA potential before they could send them to the University of North Texas.
TODD: I think you were working with George Adams with that.
DET. SCHARF: Yes, he'd been in touch with George Adams, and George told him what he needed, so Joe sent the scalp off to the State Crime Lab to get them to tell us if there were any roots or any samples that might be worthwhile to try to attempt to extract DNA, and then Joe ended up retiring before we got any reports back from the State Crime Lab.
TODD: So, he just left everything to you, right?
DET. SCHARF: Well, so I guess the case got pretty much forgotten about until Missy kind of prompted us to look at it again, and at that point, I got in touch with George Adams and told him what we'd learned from the State Crime Lab and I also talked to Dr. Kathy Taylor, who is an anthropologist with the King County Medical Examiner's Office, and their consensus was that we were probably going to need to exhume the body in order to get good material to try to get DNA from.
TODD: But you also learned more though, because you have better technology than an anthropologist to look at the case now; I think earlier there would have been a wider age range on that person, and you were able to narrow that down quite a bit, I think.
DET. SCHARF: Well, yeah, if we went back all the way to 1977, when the body was first discovered, what had happened was that this girl had been murdered and they found her body on, I think it was August 14, 1977, and she had been outdoors in 90-degree weather for several days; she had been strangled and shot in the head several times so, you know, her face had been decomposed to the point that they couldn't tell what she looked like, and our best information at that time, came from the autopsy, which said that they thought that she was an adult male, about 180 cms tall (5 feet 10 inches), and they estimated her to weigh 155 pounds. And we also had her clothing description, which was that she was wearing a tanktop with no bra; it was a size medium and it was white with blue, green and pink [stripes] on it, and she had very short, blue-jean, cut-off shorts on, and blue and white tennis shoes. She also had a watch; it was a Timex watch, on her left wrist, with a brown leather band. And at the time, the pathologist said that there were no cavities or fillings that he could see in her teeth, so what they did to try to identify her at the time was, they removed her hands and sent them to the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, to get some fingerprints on file, and they were able to get fingerprints and run them through their database but there was no identification made from that.
TODD: Well, it has to go both ways; there actually has to be…the person missing has to have their fingerprints on record, for whatever reason they would be on record, or it's…
DET. SCHARF: That's right. In Washington State, the state law says that if you report somebody missing to law enforcement, then law enforcement has to get dental records within 30 days and get them to the State Patrol to have them on file. But, in this case, I don't think any dental work was actually done at the time, because a dentist reported that they thought she was 35 years old and that she was from back East because her teeth were in such good condition, maybe he was talking about, you know, thinking they had fluoride in the water or what, but it was a real red herring…
DET. SCHARF: …that we had at the time, having that information from that dentist, because in 1988, we had a forensic dentist examine the skull, and his name was Dr. Gary Bell, he did a full work-up and discovered that the upper two front teeth had extensive dental restoration done on them with white material and that there was also one other filling in a tooth, and he estimated that she was probably 17-24 years old because there was incomplete root development on her third molars, or wisdom teeth.
TODD: You know, and it takes that expert to really get in there and they're not always available, you know, especially in the past, it's hard to go retroactively and put an expert in the past to help us today, but you had the opportunity because you have that skull.
DET. SCHARF: Right. And, I mean, back, looking at the old news accounts, they were reporting in the newspaper that she was 20-30 years old. Another news report said that she was 27-37 years old, so even if somebody around here was missing someone and had reported them, it didn't click with them because we learned, after exhuming the body, that she was probably 16-19 years old and most likely 16-19, but probably at least 15-21, in that age range. So there was a lot of misinformation a long time ago when they put it out.
TODD: Well, I'm hoping that this will prompt people to go back, especially looking at the cases in the past, look at those age ranges and try to pay attention to the artifacts found with the body and the other details, because there was quite a bit stuff found with this lady.
DET. SCHARF: Oh, yeah. Yeah. It's…there is a lot of new technology and lot more trained professionals that are working with these remains now, that can give us much better information than they had back then. After Dr. Bell did that dental work-up, in 1992, one of our detectives, John Hinds, had learned how to…or wanted to learn how to do clay reconstructions…
DET. SCHARF: …of skulls, so he took a class here in Everett and used a cast from that skull to do a clay reconstruction, and 'Evening Magazine,' here locally, did a television story about it, of him going through the class and learning how to do it. At the time, they had a wig that they put on the reconstruction and it really wasn't that good of a wig so they ended up putting a scarf over it, and when they aired it on television, we had people calling in wondering if it wasn't a relative that was missing that was 52 years old, so it really didn't do it justice, at the time, the way that was presented. So now, we believe that we have the best information that's ever been available to try to identify this girl.
TODD: You know, in the past, I think they did the best that they could with what they had available to them. You know, I meet a lot of people that look back and they'll say that they were negligent or that they didn't care in the past, and I don't think it was that, because obviously, a lot of effort was going on there to try, and tomorrow we might look back at what we're doing today and laugh at what we're doing today as primitive and crude.
DET. SCHARF: Sure.
TODD: Everybody develops and it grows and I've never seen a real lack of interest in this Jane Doe; here it is, it's 30 years later and you're still working on it.
DET. SCHARF: Yeah, and there are a lot of people out there that are trying to be helpful, to see if they can't match up some of these unidentified remains with missing persons, you know, and every once in a while, they are successful in making a match.
TODD: It's kind of strange, you know, you're throwing a lot of information, the medical examiner finds it hard to process all that data, you know, because I could suggest this Jane Doe against any number of missing women, and it could be any of them, but you submitted your DNA now to the DNA Database, and it could be very effective and in time it could kick out a possible match. The NCIC could kick out a possible match, but it's probably not something that you need to wait and see, there are still circumstantial connections that you guys could actually use to move this process along a little quicker.
DET. SCHARF: Sure, and I've been in touch with the people, trying to get information like, if there are no dental records on file, calling the families that reported their loved one missing to find out, you know, "Did your loved one ever get in an accident where her two front teeth got chipped?"
DET. SCHARF: You know, "Do you remember an incident like that when they were younger?" Because that might be a key to solving this case, where you can't get that kind of information out of NCIC.
TODD: No. You've got to have that two-way conversation going there, and you know, in the reconstruction, you went through several phases of that reconstruction. You have a fairly new sketch now from a new artist and it looks great. I think so many people…and I do quite a bit of work in forensic art, and so many people see this as if they are looking for a portrait of their missing loved one and it's really not supposed to be that. As good as it is, it's probably not going to be an identical match, visually, for your missing loved one, and people shouldn't dismiss it too quickly, they need to look for a resemblance. What has been your experience?
DET. SCHARF: Right…they're overlooking. I'm sorry to interrupt, but that's what we're looking for, is somebody to recognize the resemblance so that we can have that person, you know, let us know that their loved one is missing and that they think that it might be them. Then we've got three different options on trying to identify them. We can either do it by fingerprint, by the dental, or by DNA. Now, we've just sent our bone off to get it analyzed for DNA, so it might take a few months before we get that information back, but in the meantime, we're hoping that we can gather some potential matches to ensure that we have DNA samples from them, so that when we end up with our DNA from Jane Doe, we can compare it to the person that we believe might be the relative and be able to identify them positively, that way.
TODD: Well, it'll help everybody.
DET. SCHARF: Yeah, that will help everybody.
TODD: You should expedite this.
DET. SCHARF: Right now, right now we may not have the DNA from the loved one on file either, so if they recognize this girl, they can make sure that they get their DNA sample in to law enforcement.
TODD: I mean, it helps them get attention on their specific case as well, because they're getting to process their DNA, and they need to have that done anyway. That needs to be done anyway…
DET. SCHARF: Right.
TODD: …no matter what, if you have missing or unidentified. That's the hope of the future, it's this DNA.
DET. SCHARF: Yeah. Anyone that has ever reported their son, daughter, sister, brother missing, they need to be getting their samples in to law enforcement, so that they can get them on file in CODIS, so that a match can be made when the unidentified remains have the DNA profile done up on them.
TODD: And a lot of law enforcement agencies are going back in time and exhuming bodies specifically to gather DNA now, so more and more often, you're going to see that happen, whereas before, something had to prompt that agency to actually exhume the body for comparative analysis. Now, they're being proactive and actually getting in there and actually exhuming bodies simply for the purpose of putting DNA into the DNA Database or CODIS, and that's an important thing. Dr. Emily Craig, with the State Medical Examiner of Kentucky, one of the first things she told me when she tried to explain DNA to me 10 years ago, "It's not a bar code, it's a genetic code," but more and more, it's almost becoming like a bar code, because of the databases and we're actually able to make a cold hit with DNA, simply from the DNA comparison.
DET. SCHARF: Yeah, and DNA has evolved over the years, too. They used to have to have a much larger sample…
DET. SCHARF: …and now they're able to do it with smaller samples and more degraded samples, than they ever were before. So, technology is only getting better for that.
TODD: It's an exciting time, you know, with NamUs, all the DNA breakthroughs, you know, I think we've got a good opportunity to identify a lot of people, and I think it's so important to think that we still need advocacy, we still need the public's help, we still need groups like Doe Network to continue doing what they're doing to help organize and bring the data together. Because, a lot of times, over the years this data has been scattered; media reports that were inaccurate, not on purpose, but we're able to pull them back from the past and actually clarify and understand why they were inaccurate and then help eliminate…you see, we spoke of it today, the inaccuracies and how they've been changed now, so we've taken away that problem that was there before, by explaining it, and I think that's important to do that. DET. SCHARF: Oh, absolutely. And we're getting the word out with this girl. We've got it out now to Missing Pieces, it's on the Doe Network, it's on the website for the Center for the Missing and Exploited Children, the medical examiner is submitting it to NamUs, so we're getting it out everywhere we can think of. We'd like to get more exposure, because the more people that see this are going to be able to help us get her identified, and that's the bottom line here, is we want to identify these missing persons.
TODD: Now, other potential matches that you've had for this body, have you ever had any…the past 30 years, you have to have thought that it was somebody else at some point in time?
DET. SCHARF: Well, the most likely person would have been this Cherry Greenman, and like I say, we ruled her out. We've ruled out many, many people from dental.
DET. SCHARF: There are a few that we haven't been able to rule out, that we're going to have to wait for DNA to be able to compare them, but there are a few that have DNA on file, we just don't have fingerprints or dental records for them.
TODD: So, it's just a matter of getting your ducks in a row, that's as simple as that. We've just got to get all the data and it's important while the family members of these missing persons are still alive and able to still put their hands on that data.
DET. SCHARF: There is probably a little bit more information too, that we've got in this case, that we actually got from the person who committed the murder. We've been in touch with him four or five times, and he, in fact, helped us with the hairstyle on the composite to get that as accurate as we could.
TODD: And that's one of the interesting things; you've got a guy that was actually charged with her murder, and we don't even know who she is, and he doesn't know who she is, right? He doesn't seem to.
DET. SCHARF: Yeah, and in fact, he's already served 26-plus years in prison and he's out living in the community again, and he's done what he can to try to fix this by telling us as much as he knows her. She didn't give him her name. He told us that he thought that she was a little bit older because she acted mature.
DET. SCHARF: He was, I think, 20 years old at the time, but she actually was probably younger than him.
TODD: So, he has already served his debt to society; he's a free man now.
DET. SCHARF: Yes. He does report to the parole board once a week, but he has a job and he's living in the community now.
TODD: Now, the thing is going to be when this girl is identified.
DET. SCHARF: I'm sorry.
TODD: When this girl is finally identified, that…that could change things. You know, I don't think it's going to change the fact that he has already served his time for the crime, but how do you think people are going to react to this?
DET. SCHARF: Well, I'm sure that when we find the family they're going to be pretty upset, but we'll at least be able to give them some answers, and I think that's important. The 31 years of not knowing anything…this poor girl, if she was 16 years old at the time, she had a name up until she was 16, and for the last 31 years, she's been nameless, so it's important that we give her name back to her.
TODD: Yeah. Before anything else can be done with this, her name has to be restored to her, and hopefully, with all the efforts, you've certainly done everything you can do. There is more media that you can do, but one step at a time. I think you've done it all so far.
DET. SCHARF: Well, we're trying to do our best. I mean, I have spent a long time searching databases like the Charley Project…
DET. SCHARF: …they have a lot of missing persons listed in chronological order so, you know, that was easy to go back from the time of the murder, backwards, to try to search for potential matches that way. But we're hoping that that one tip is going to come in that will give her name back to her, and we can get this whole thing resolved.
TODD: Well, we'll definitely keep trying and hopefully NamUs will be able to help you, but maybe we will get a tip before then that could change everything.
DET. SCHARF: Yeah. Well, thank you very much, Todd. We really appreciate all the help that you're doing. I know you do a lot of good work in this area.
TODD: We're going to try. It's just one of the things that you just can't stop doing once you get involved in it. There is no point where you can walk away from anything like this and we'll definitely be talking about your Jane Doe at our next NamUs session. It's definitely a very unique case; all of them are unique, but a lot of interesting things about this case, so many things were found with that body, it's just hard to believe that she has not been identified in more than 30 years and I'm hoping that that will come to an end really soon.
DET. SCHARF: Yeah, we hope so.
TODD: All right. Thanks for being here. We appreciate it, and hopefully we can help.
DET. SCHARF: Well, you've already helped us by giving more exposure than we've had, so I really appreciate that.
TODD: Okay. We'll say goodnight to the audience and Jim and I will talk a little bit longer, and we'll be back again next week. Bye-bye.
DET. SCHARF: Bye.
1977 Snohomish County Jane Doe Vitals:
Date Found: August 14, 1977
Location Found: Everett, Snohomish County, Washington
Estimated Age: 15 to 22 Years old (Most likely 16 to 19 years old)
Hair: Short, light brown hair.
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: Around 155 lbs.
Dentals: Her teeth were in good condition, upper two front teeth had dental restorations
Clothing: A tank top with pastel stripes, cut off jeans and blue and white tennis shoes (Mr. Sneeker brand in men's size 7). She had no purse or identifying papers in her pockets.
Jewelry: A Timex watch with a brown leather band on her left wrist.
Other: Appeared to have suntan.
1977 Snohomish County Jane Doe
Jane Doe’s badly decomposed body was discovered in August 1977 by blackberry pickers in the south Everett area off 112th St. SW and 4th Ave. W (which was called Emander Road at that time).
She had been strangled and shot several times in the head. Officials weren’t able to identify her or give her age. At the time (and even years later) officials reported she could be anywhere from 17 to 37 years old.
In 1979 a twenty year old suspect was picked up by Gold Bar police on a weapons charge. An informant told police the suspect had described picking up a hitchhiker days before and they drank beer. She told him she lived with two men.
The suspect corroborated story and confessed to picking up Jane Doe, who was hitchhiking near Silver Lake where he had gone to swim. From there, they went to an area near where her body was later found. He stated; after drinking some beer, she refused his sexual advances so he strangled her, then shot her.
He was convicted of the crime and has since served his time and been released. He has been cooperative with cold case detectives, but he hasn’t been able to help them much with the victim's identity, since he did not know the victim or even her first name.
In 1992, Sheriff’s Det. John Hinds (now retired) used a plaster cast of Jane Doe’s skull to create a facial reconstruction, in hopes of identifying her. Despite his efforts, no one was able to identify her.
On April 1, 2008, cold case detectives James Scharf and David Heitzman along with the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office, had Jane Doe’s remains exhumed from her unmarked grave at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Everett in order to get DNA samples extracted from her bones. King County anthropologist Dr. Kathy Taylor examined the bones and determined that Jane Doe was likely much younger than earlier reported.
Note: Often runaways might be dropped from NCIC when they reach adulthood by the calender -- even though they had not yet been accounted for or recovered.
Before killing Jane Doe, David Roth said he offered her marijuana and she declined. He asked her for sex and she said no. She was anxious to go home.
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