Westby, Wisconsin Jane Doe

Westby Jane Doe
Unsolved

It’s been a long time since I’ve tried my hand at putting a face to a Jane Doe, but that’s mostly because I am not finding pictures of skulls with mandibles to work with. Darn! But then a person suggested to me that I might try my hand at putting faces to dead people who weren’t skeletons when they were found. I decided to go for it.

My first attempt is with Jane Doe from Westby, Wisconsin. This poor woman was found on May 4, 1984 by 3 young men. The body had been dumped beside Old Line Road, approximately 4 miles west of Westby.

The young men drove to a nearby farm, phoned the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office, and then returned to the scene to wait for the police. They met up with a patrol deputy at around 11:50 p.m. and led him to the body.

The deputy noted that there were tire tracks making a U-turn on the gravel road. The vehicle that made the U-turn had a short wheel base.

Backup arrived and the scene was processed. The victim was an older woman who had been bludgeoned on the head. Her hands were missing, having been severed at the wrists. The killer had just dumped the body and made no attempt to hide it.

Westby Jane Doe clothingThis unfortunate woman was still dressed — she had a shoe, a dress and a coat as can be seen in the picture.

The police did their best to discover the identity of their Jane Doe. Her dentures, which had been fractured during the brutal attack that killed her, had numbers on them. The numbers 420 or 4-20 were inscribed, and 289 were visible in raised lettering. Those numbers sadly didn’t lead to her identity.

Police canvassed the area in the following weeks, and they followed several tips, all for naught. The investigation grew to involve many other police agencies, but still the woman’s identity eluded detection.

When TV reports of the murder were aired, a couple from Westby called in a tip. They’d seen something strange on Cut-Across Road near US Highway 14 between Coon Valley and Westby. There had been a yellow compact car with a man walking around it. This was around 9:45 p.m. on May 4, 1984.

When police checked the spot where the car had been seen, they found a piece of the broken dentures, some blood and a man’s Seiko wristwatch with a broken band.

What the police figured was that this man was pulled off the highway to dump the body but was spooked by the couple who saw him. He drove off and ultimately dumped the body 3 miles away on Old Line Road.

The observant couple couldn’t identify the make of the car they’d seen, but they identified the yellow colour from a colour chart. The yellow was associated with a 1982 Datsun.

Sadly, this failed to lead to the killer or the identity of the victim. It’s been 30 years and she’s still unidentified.

Jane Doe C 324-84The woman was approximately 50 to 63 years of age. She was 5’5″ and 150 pounds. Her hair was brunette with some graying. Her eyes were blue.

I did my best to give Westby Jane Doe a face. It was surprisingly difficult. When you lie on your back your facial features shift toward your ears. This is especially true when you’re older and your skin isn’t so tight. When you stand up gravity pulls your facial features toward your feet.

Jane Doe had tweezed eyebrows, and I suspect her hair was dyed and permed. Her eyelids were heavy, and she had obvious crows feet and bags under her eyes. The photo is too exposed for me to see her forehead but I’m assuming it was lined. She appears to have a fleshy double chin. The nose was quite bulbous, possibly hooked.

Westby Jane DoeThe big debate I had with myself was the dimple on the chin. Was that natural, or was it caused by the broken dentures? It’s quite deep, kinda like Kirk Douglas’ chin, which isn’t typical in women. I compromised and gave the woman just a hint of a cleft on her chin.

I don’t know how successful I am in giving Westby Jane Doe a recognizable face. Hopefully it’ll stir some memories for someone out there. If anyone has any information about this unfortunate woman, please contact the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office of the FBI. Her case number with the FBI is C 324-84.

P.S. I decided to make a picture of her with her dress and shoes, in case it triggered a memory. It got me thinking that probably Jane Doe didn’t have much in the way of money — her shoes definitely didn’t match her dress, so possibly she didn’t have extra pairs of shoes from which to choose.

Here’s hoping that someone will finally come forward and give a name to this poor woman. Her killer can’t be caught until his victim is identified. I hope he’s led a miserable life — it’s the least he deserves.

FBI poster
Vernon County Sheriff’s Office

15 Responses to Westby, Wisconsin Jane Doe

  1. 2cute says:

    Gotta admit it’s spooky looking at a dead woman’s face. Morbid much? Funny but I was ok with the skulls more than this woman’s picture. Thirty years is a long time to be missing. I wonder if she was killed by her husband or her kids since I guess she’s not reported missing.

    • linda says:

      Agreed, I love what you do for these poor victims, but I’d prefer to be warned before seeing a picture of a deceased person.

      • cleo says:

        Point taken. I’m afraid after hours and hours of looking at it I became somewhat inured to it. Sorry about that.

      • cleo says:

        I made a change that I think works well. Sometimes I need a boot in my rear to remind me that other people might not be comfortable with the images.

        • linda says:

          Thanks! And don’t be sorry, the reason why you got inured was because you are trying to help this lady and I think your work is quite amazing.

  2. moodymagic says:

    Cleo a very good effort. I imagine skulls are alot easier to draw. The original pic drawn makes this poor woman looks to be about 300 pounds. I can see why no one has recognized her.

    • 2cute says:

      Um moodymagic, that’s not a drawn picture at the top — that’s a photo of the dead woman’s head.

      • Ashton says:

        It was actually a photo of the body with eyes drawn on it. It was a basic reconstruction technique for people who hadn’t been badly disfigured or decomposed.

  3. bulldoggy says:

    Maybe the dimple on the chin came from one of the blows to her head, the one that broke her dentures. She’s probably swollen from the attack don’t you think? I wonder if she was killed the day she was dumped. If she’d been dead for a while she would’ve swollen up I think. Good job Cleo making her look like a real person.

  4. awesomeblossom says:

    Her shoe was very worn so likely she didn’t have any money to splash around. She wasn’t killed for her fortune. She left her home with her killer because she took her coat along. Maybe she thought she was going out for a treat and wound up hit from behind. Poor lady. I hope she didn’t realize what was happening to her.

  5. FlyingLeadChange says:

    For some reason, this reminds me of the Boy in a Box… I remember seeing his picture and wishing they had made one of him as a living person.

    Kudos to you for your efforts, Cleo. 30 years isn’t that long, she had to have lived somewhere and there are definitely people still alive who would have served her at stores or seen her around town somewhere.

    • PJ says:

      If she had a perm she either had a hairdresser or a friend to help her. People knew her. She probably didn’t have kids unless the kids killed her. They would have reported her missing. She wasn’t killed for insurance because the murderer didn’t want her body identified – you can’t collect without a body. She probably wasn’t killed for money because the way she was dressed would indicate she didn’t have much. So I figure she was in the way. Somebody just wanted her gone. Taking off her hands would not only deprive investigators of fingerprints, it would also hide a wedding ring that was maybe too tight to pry off. I’m thinking her husband could’ve killed her. I sure hope somebody comes forward so this woman can be laid to rest properly.

  6. Lorraine says:

    Sad to think that you can go missing and no one notices

  7. Ashton says:

    I wonder if her clothes were homemade. Probably why the brand labels were removed and the stitching was regarded as unique.

  8. Lizz says:

    I’m from the town where this woman was found and my mom is was friends with the kids who found her body at the time. (It was a actually a girl and two boys, not three boys. (I won’t disclose their names for legal reasons.)) They actually suspect that the woman was from Minnesota because there were missing persons leads there. (Note: At the time of death she wasn’t only wearing the shoes and dress, she also had on a blue turtleneck, pantyhose, and a coat with the colors brown, blue, and red in it. She might not be as poor as previously thought because the coat had red in it to match the shoes and she was able to afford dentures.)

    Great recreation, though!! Until this picture, I had only ever seen the one of her looking like a rotting jack-o-lantern.

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