The Snohomish County Jane Doe is the name used to describe a woman who berry pickers found dead in Washington state in August of 1977. Since that time she has remained unnamed and that is despite a major peculiarity with her case. Usually when Jane Doe's are found giving them their proper name back is a major part of finding out what happened to them -- it is often a step in bringing a killer to justice.

However, in the case of the Snohomish County Jane Doe, her killer, a man named David Roth, has already served his entire sentence. He has not been able to name her nor provide pivotal clues to her identity. As efforts to find out who she was continue into a 40th year, it may be that clues may become few and further between. 40 years is a long time when it comes to normal human life spans and, it stands to reason, that there are fewer and fewer people around that might be able to help with this case with each passing decade.

2016 phone call didn't shed light

Back in the summer of 2016, Komo News mentioned the Snohomish County Jane Doe in an article (Lindsay Cohen/June 23rd). The article caught my attention, because it mentioned an Australian caller who thought she had something to offer to shed light on the Doe's identity.

I followed up with investigator Jane Jorgensen in December to see if the lead had in fact been fruitful.

According to an email reply from the investigator from the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office the tip wasn't useful: "We did get a tip from Australia," Jorgensen explained to me, "that our Jane Doe might be Christine Ruth Thornton, but NamUs ruled her out within a couple of days using fingerprints" (quoted from a Jan 26 email to me from Jorgensen).

Time marches on

When it comes to identifying unidentified remains, there is no line in the sand for when it's too late.

When it comes to wanting to know what happened to someone who went missing, there is no clear cutoff point to stop looking for answers.

However, there is a point, unclear as it may be, where mysteries become more the domain of academics, curious mystery lovers, and historical researchers than coroners and law enforcement. 40 years certainly is not that point and older cases have in fact been cracked.

However, 50 years and 60 years certainly seems lengthy. If the Snohomish County Jane Doe doesn't get named in the decade ahead, it could be that she never does.

New suggestion taken into consideration

I've actually personally offered a suggestion as to who the Jane Doe might be. It's a suggestion that I have inconsistent confidence in. At times, I feel it is strong but at other times I feel that it is not.

My suggestion was Narelle Mary Cox, one I communicated to Jorgensen who subsequently informed me that the matter was being relayed to police near where Cox went missing -- some 8000 miles away in Australia. At times I feel strongly that the Jane Doe and Cox are one in the same, at other times I feel that it's futile to try and connect them based on the distance and other factors. But in the end I see no harm in trying. The composite sketch of the Snohomish County Jane Doe and the only photo I've found of Narelle Mary Cox can be found below.

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