VIROQUA,WI(WXOW)--In May of 1984 someone murdered a woman and dumped her body along a gravel road in Vernon County. The victim was in her late 60's but has never been identified--partly because the killer cut off her hands to prevent fingerprint identification.
Friday marks the 28th anniversary of the discovery of the body and officials hope new technology will lead to an arrest.
The focus right now is finding someone who knows the victim. That's step one.
Officials believe 'Jane Doe' was brought into Vernon County and was not murdered at the site where her body was found. Witnesses at the time said they saw a yellow compact car driving away from the scene.
All the tags in her clothing were cut out. Sheriff John Spears said the perpetrator, who is believed to be a man, 'went to extraordinary lengths in making sure no one could identify this woman.'
"They removed all identification from her, they removed labels from her clothing, they cut off her hands. Those are extraordinary efforts to conceal her identity. What I'm asking for is for all of us to put forth extraordinary efforts to identify her," said Spears.
A team of seven people from the Vernon County Sheriff's Department, the Department of Justice, representatives from the Cold Case Unit, and the Minnesota BCA are all working to solve the mystery. Right now, forensic scientists in Madison are using new forms of technology to re-create 'Jane Doe's' DNA--which could potentially be matched to a family member for identification.
That's where social media comes in. Vernon County Sheriff's Department will have a Facebook page with all of Jane Doe's information and wants everyone to take a look.
Retired Chief Deputy, Jim Hanson is a part of the team. He was first on the scene the night Doe was found. Hanson said he is confident that by identifying Jane Doe, step two, which is finding the perpetrator, will become that much easier.
MADISON (NEWS RELEASE) — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has announced that the Vernon County Sheriff's Department is working with the Department of Justice (DOJ), Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Cold Case Unit to identify "Jane Doe" and bring her killer to justice. "Jane Doe" was found murdered off of Old Line Road in Vernon County 28 years ago.
Throughout the decades, more than 400 leads about missing women have been investigated in hopes of identifying "Jane Doe," and the case has been widely circulated among law enforcement but has remained unsolved. Retired Chief Deputy Sheriff Jim Hanson, who was a patrol deputy at the time, responded to the scene late in the evening May 4, 1984. Today, under the direction of Sheriff John Spears, the now-retired Hanson is actively working the cold case for Vernon County.
Sheriff John Spears said, "We hope that finding the true identity of Jane Doe by using the forensic sciences of today -- that were not developed in 1984 -- may lead to her killer. She was a living, breathing person, likely someone's daughter, neighbor, or customer with her own identity and life story, whose life was left at a roadside following a brutal murder."
"Many investigators have worked tirelessly to find justice for this woman throughout the years. This renewed effort should serve as a reminder to anyone looking to do harm that it's our duty to pursue justice, no matter how long it takes," Attorney General Van Hollen said. "With technology that's ever evolving, we've made great strides in cold case investigations and hope to do the same in cooperation with our partners in Vernon County."
The Wisconsin Clearinghouse for Missing and Exploited Children and Adults produced a flier, which has a rendering of "Jane Doe," photos of the clothes she was wearing and a description of a suspicious vehicle seen in the area. The flier is available at the following link:
Anyone with information should contact the Vernon County Sheriff's Department at 608-637-2123. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension also is assisting Wisconsin investigators with this case. Media seeking more information should contact Dana Brueck at 608-266-1221.