For nearly 40 years, it’s been a multi-agency effort to identify two young women, brutally murdered by the same man just days apart. Their killer is serving a life sentence, but his victims, are still nameless.
DNA is what connected the two victims to each other and led investigators to their rapist and murderer.
Now, with the help of incredibly innovative science and passionate genealogists, DNA may provide the final piece to this case and what investigators need to finally bring the women home.
This spring, working with the Kern County Coroner’s Office and a dedicated cold case investigator in Ventura, 17 news launched a campaign to try to identify two women, long referred to as Kern County Jane Doe and Ventura County Jane Doe.
The bodies of the women were found three days apart in July 1980. Kern County Jane Doe was found in an orchard outside Delano. Ventura County Jane Doe was found in a high school parking lot in Thousand Oaks.
After our story aired, 17 news reached out media outlets and organizations aimed at identifying does all across the country, asking for their help to spread the message. One of the organizations we reached out to is the nonprofit, the DNA Doe Project.
Using DNA from jane and john does, the nonprofit develops the DNA sequencing necessary for a genealogy search. Massive genealogy databases, like Ancestry.com with over 10 million profiles, refuses to allow law enforcement to use their database.
However, GEDmatch, with one million users is available to anyone. That’s where volunteer genealogists with the DNA Doe Project come in. Using GEDmatch, they create family trees to identify does and reunite them with their families. Up and running for a little over a year, they’ve already identified four people.
The nonprofit was eager to help identify Ventura and Kern Doe. The coroner’s office is currently working on getting a viable DNA sample from Kern Doe to send off. Meanwhile, the DNA Doe Project has made progress on Ventura Jane Doe, who was four months pregnant when she was killed.
The nonprofit found Ventura Doe is 60% Native American. The rest of her DNA is a mix that suggests her father was likely partially Hispanic. Volunteer genealogists have successfully found a third cousin of Ventura Doe, and are working on finding more closely related family members that will hopefully reveal her identity.
They say it’s a process that with other cases has taken as little as four hours, and as long as 10 months.
In recent months, we’ve also learned more about where the does came from before their bodies were dumped in Kern and Ventura County.
Information was given to law enforcement that Ventura County Jane Doe was abducted from Visalia, 80 miles from Bakersfield. She’s believed to have been hitchhiking near the College of the Sequoias.
Kern County Jane Doe is believed to have been taken from a bar in Lemoore. Now closed, in 1980 it was called Rubys.
Again, while the process for identifying Ventura County Doe’s family is further along than Kern Jane Does, the DNA Doe Project and the Kern County Coroner’s Office are hopeful they will soon know the identities of both women. The DNA Doe Project is a nonprofit made up of volunteers.
If you’d like to donate, you can go to their website www.dnadoeproject.org.You can also follow their progress on Ventura Doe by liking their Facebook page where they give regular updates.
For more information on Ventura and Kern Doe, and access to all our copyright free information, go to www.murderedandforgotten.com.