A memorial for Bambi - Family to attend service in Texas for teen killed in 1983

A memorial for Bambi - Family to attend service in Texas for teen killed in 1983

September 2, 2009
The Quad-City Times
By Ann McGlynn, [email protected]

She always had a headstone.

There was a memorial service for her, too, back when she was found dead in a culvert nearly 26 years ago outside of Amarillo, Texas.

But now, she has a different headstone, one with her name, her picture and her birth date.

Next week, a memorial service will recall the young woman again.

This time, her family will be there.

Bambi Lynn Dick, a 17-year-old who disappeared from Davenport in September 1983, was Amarillo's Jane Doe. An extraordinary series of events led to her identification earlier this year.

Her two brothers and a nephew will travel to Texas to pay their final respects, visit the place she was found dead and talk with the investigators who are trying to find her killer.

Bambi's elderly parents, Edward and Evelyn Dick of Davenport, are unable to make the trip.

"This will probably be the one time I go," said Paul Dick, who will be flying into the Quad-Cities from Massachusetts to meet his brother, Forest, and his brother's son this weekend. They will then make the drive to Amarillo. "I always knew that my sister was not with us. I just never made a connection until that photograph."

The photograph he speaks of is of Bambi's face, from her autopsy. Authorities sent it to him, as well as a videotape of her first memorial service.

"It will be sad. I don't know how to express it in words."

Bambi went to the Quiet Riot and Axe concert at the Col Ballroom in Davenport on the night of Sept. 28, 1983.

Her family never saw her again. They filed a report with the Davenport Police Department, which was canceled without explanation in early 1984, after she would have turned 18. They searched, hiring a private investigator and combing the Internet, hoping for the smallest of clues.

Ten days after the concert, a biker found the body of a young woman hundreds of miles away. She was strangled from behind, dragged and stuffed into a culvert outside of Amarillo.

Officials buried her as a Jane Doe at Amarillo's Memory Gardens Cemetery, with donated clothes, a donated plot, a donated casket and a donated headstone.

In early February, Paul Dick posted a description of Bambi on the North American Missing Persons Network. On Feb. 13, Teresa Sprague of Victorville, Calif., called the Amarillo Special Crimes Unit. She thought she had a possible match to their Jane Doe, described in a post on The Doe Network 's Web site.

The similarities between Bambi and Jane Doe were striking, Sprague noted, right down to the physical description, brand of jeans, birthstone, tinted contact lenses and a third nipple below her right breast.

DNA confirmed her identity.

Detectives are now using her identity to try to solve the case. They made a trip to Davenport to interview people who knew her, trying to glean clues about where she may have gone, who she may have left with.

But time is a challenge.

"The biggest problem we run into is the number of years," said Lt. Gary Trupe, who leads the agency investigating the case. And, he said, "there was really no thought process into remembering the last time they saw Bambi.

"When we talked to them, we thought she left, took off, living her own life. Never stuck in their mind why she left or what she was doing in that time. We're battling that bad."

They have at least two more people they want to talk with, guys who were in Davenport at the time Bambi disappeared, Trupe said. One of them lives in Texas.

Further DNA tests may also reveal clues about the killer, Trupe said.

Investigators will be with the family next week as they say goodbye to Bambi, Trupe said.

The Dick family remains forever thankful to the Amarillo community for the love it showed Bambi. One example among many: A woman donated Bambi's new headstone, said Lorie Dick, who is Paul Dick's wife.

"We're hoping all of the pieces will fall into place and they will be able to put the person who did this to Bambi into jail," said Lorie Dick.