Detectives hope to ID homicide victim after decades

Detectives hope to ID homicide victim after decades

May 2, 2008
Herald Net
By Jim Haley:

EVERETT -- Snohomish County sheriff's cold case detectives know who killed the young woman more than 30 years ago.

They recently produced a sketch of what she might have looked like in 1977.

Now, they want to know her name.

Detectives on Thursday released a new sketch of the unidentified victim, and aim to distribute it as widely as possible so somebody might recognize her.

The sketch, done by a retired sheriff's detective, was drawn after her remains were exhumed April 1, and a King County anthropologist determined the victim, between 15 and 21 years old, was younger than officials thought years ago.

The deputies also had her DNA sent to the FBI for comparison and to be included in a national database.

"We want to give some answers to her family," detective Jim Scharf said Thursday. "We want to return her identity to her. She's been Jane Doe to us for longer than she was alive."

The victim was described as white and was tall, standing about 5 feet 10 inches. She weighed around 155 pounds, had short brown or light brown hair. Her hair showed no sign of color treatments. The victim appeared to have a suntan at the time of her death.

She was wearing a tank top with pastel stripes, cutoff jeans and blue and white tennis shoes. She also had a Timex watch with a brown leather band on her left wrist. Her upper two front teeth had extensive dental work.

Although nobody knew who she was, David Marvin Roth was held responsible for her August 1977 strangling and shooting. He dumped her body in some bushes in south Everett near 112th Street SW and Fourth Avenue W. Blackberry pickers later found her partially decomposed remains.

Roth was charged in January 1978 after bullets from his .22-caliber rifle matched those found in the victim. He was convicted of first-degree murder in 1979 and stayed in prison until May 2005.

After his release, Roth cooperated with deputies, detective Dave Heitzman said.

This is the second time detectives have gone public with information about the victim in an attempt to identify her.

In 1992, now retired detective John Hinds used a plaster cast of the victim's skull to create a facial reconstruction. At the time, her age was pegged at between 17 and 35. Photos of the reconstruction were distributed widely without success.

Hinds, who now lives in Thurston County, spent several years after retirement on the East Coast doing forensic artist work in Maine and New Hampshire.

Information he had retained from her skull, plus new information from the Snohomish County medical examiner, enabled him to revise her likeness.

Although Roth doesn't know the victim's name, he told detectives what her hair style was like at the time of her death.

Roth also told detectives that he picked her up hitchhiking on the Bothell-Everett Highway on the east side of Silver Lake. According to court papers, he took her to an isolated spot, drank some beer and killed her when she refused him sex.

Detectives also released sketches of some of the victim's clothing and the watch on Thursday.

The case was reopened after a call from the Doe Network, a North American organization that keeps track of missing and unidentified people. The Doe Network wanted to know if someone missing from Eastern Washington could be the 1977 murder victim.

That person had already been ruled out years ago, but detectives learned that now-retired sheriff's detective Joe Ward already had started to reopen the case. Scharf and Heitzman continued the work Ward started and in March secured a court order to exhume the body.

"With a person of that age range, somebody is going to miss her," Heitzman said.

A lot of the missing person databases from that era are incomplete, Scharf said. Different jurisdictions handle things in different ways, and some police agencies used to eliminate people from reported runaway lists when they turned 18. Heitzman and Scharf hope the new sketch and information will lead to a solid tip on the victim's identity.

If not, it may be the last chance to learn her name.

"This is the best we're going to get," Hinds said.