Boulder Colorado "Jane Doe" Identified as Phoenix Woman Who Went Missing in 1954
Dorothy Gay Howard
Boulder Police Department
Police in Boulder, Colorado have identified the famous victim of an infamous crime that took place more than 50 years ago.
The victim, known for decades as Boulder's famous "Jane Doe," is actually a Phoenix woman named Dorothy Gay Howard who was reported missing in 1954. Howard, according to the Boulder Police Department, was 18 years old when she was reported missing in Phoenix in March, 1954.
Less than a month later, on April 8, 1954, Boulder police found her battered naked body on the banks of Boulder Creek, about eight miles west of the city.
Boulder police say that despite an aggressive investigation, the department was unable to identify the woman or find her killer. Her body was buried under a donated headstone that read: "Jane Doe -- April 1954 -- Age About 20 Years."
In 2004, Boulder historian Silvia Pettem fought to have the body exhumed with the hope of identifying it. She was successful, and with funding from the Boulder community, was able to have modern investigative techniques performed, as well as the recreation of what the woman's face may have looked like.
The case of the Boulder "Jane Doe" even made its way to the America's Most Wanted TV show, on which the the recreated bust of what authorities believed "Jane Doe" looked like was broadcast all across the country.
Still, according to police, the identity of murdered woman eluded law enforcement and the droves of volunteers eager to find out who she was.
However, late last week, Boulder police got a call from Dr. Terry Melton, president and CEO of Mitotyping Technologies in Pennsylvania, saying a positive match had been made between DNA taken from the body and DNA provided by an unidentified woman who thought "Jane Doe" might be her sister.
And just like that, a mystery that spanned more than five decades was solved.
Boulder Detective Steve Ainsworth tells New Times that authorities still don't know who killed Howard but that a theory is that she was murdered by convicted serial killer Harvey Glatman.
Ainsworth says he doesn't know whether the woman was taken from Phoenix or if she left on her own accord, which she was known to do.
According to Ainsworth, there is nothing known that links Glatman to Phoenix, but police know that he was definitely in Denver around the time that the woman was murdered.
Regardless, Ainsworth says knowing the identity of the victim makes the investigation into who killed her much easier.
"In recent years, the search for Jane Doe's identity has spread around the world, touching the lives of thousands of people, including me," Pettem, who has been searching for the woman's identity for nearly a decade, says in a statement. "I feel sadness for her tragic death, but relief that her family now has closure. I look forward to [seeing] Dorothy's real name on a new gravestone."
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.