The Unnamed: Sumter County Does Part I
This week, we will be examining an extremely notable Doe case. Well, Doe cases. There are two victims here, apparently killed together. The internet seems to be obsessed with this case – it seems so solvable. That’s part of the reason why I picked it; there are so many details that should have already led to finding the identities of this pair. So why are the Sumter County Does still unnamed? This week, we’ll look at the discovery of the bodies and descriptions of the Does. Next week we’ll examine current missing persons excluded from being the couple, and see if we can come up with some possible identities.
(Reminder: I try to use they/them pronouns for Does, as the individual is not able to define their gender for us.)
At 6:20 AM on August 9, 1976, a truck driver discovered the bodies of a young couple on the side of a secluded road in South Carolina. The truck driver notified an employee of a nearby shop, and that employee then notified the police. When the police arrived, they were met with a puzzling scene. The pair – later christened as Jane and Jock Doe – were lying side-by-side on the shoulder of the road. Each had been shot three times, as evidenced by the wounds found in their necks, chests, and backs.
What made the scene puzzling was the lack of transportation. There was no car at the scene and the only person to witness the couple in the area was a local hermit, who stated that they were dropped off by a car. So that leads us to two questions: who were these people and how did they end up meeting their fate?
Jane Doe was estimated to be between 18 and 25 years old at the time of their death, making them younger than Jock. Namus states that Jane Doe’s estimated age is between 18 and 25. At the time of their death, Jane Doe stood at 5’5” and weighed between 100 and 105 pounds. Jane Doe had reddish-brown hair that fell at her shoulders and bluish gray eyes. There were also two prominent moles near the left side of their mouth. The coroner assigned to examine Jane Doe noted that she had particularly long natural eyelashes.
Jane Doe had straight teeth and fillings in her molars, leading investigators to believe they were from a fairly well-off family. Jane Doe had no surgical scars and had never been pregnant. They were wearing a white cotton blouse over a pink halter top and short denim shorts. Jane Doe also had a floral scarf around their waist in place of a belt. Their shoes were Stride Rite brand wedges, light purple and hot pink in color.
Perhaps most notably, Jane Doe was found wearing three rings. The first had an oblong black stone which possibly had turquoise embedded within it. The second ring had an embossed feather with coral and turquoise. The third was a simple band with unidentified stones that were red, blue, and white. All three rings were handmade and traced to either Mexican or Indigenous cultures. The investigating officers surmised that the rings came from the American Southwest, likely New Mexico or Arizona.
Jock Doe was estimated to be between 18 and 22 years old initially, though further investigation showed that they may have been older than the initial guess. Namus lists Jock’s estimated age between 18 and 30. Jock Doe had an olive complexion, brown shoulder length hair, and brown eyes. His eyebrows were bushy and especially notable. At the time of their death, Jock stood over 6’1” tall and weighed around 150 pounds.
Jock had extensive dental work done, including a root canal and seemed to have partial dental reconstruction, which is the rebuilding and/or reconstruction of one or more teeth. The methods to the dental work were consistent with methods used outside of the United States. Jock also had an apparent appendectomy scar. At the time of discovery, they were wearing a red shirt that read “Coors – America’s Light Beer” and Levi brand jeans. They were also wearing a yellow Bulova watch (which was unable to be tracked due to the company destroying their records) and a gold ring with a gray star sapphire stone. The ring had the letters JPF engraved on the band.
In the pocket of the jeans was a matchbook from a Midwestern truckstop and the shirt was a promotional item given away in Florida, leading the investigators to conclude that the couple had been nomadic in life. The accessories were on the pricey side and well-maintained, which led investigators to conclude he came from a wealthy family. The deceased was christened “Jock” Doe because it was believed the deceased came from a French Canadian family – though why they went with “Jock” instead of Jacques eludes me. Someone who claimed to have met Jock Doe came forward to tell investigators that in conversation, Jock had mentioned being from Canada, where their father was a notable doctor.
There are a few theories as to what happened to Jane and Jock Doe. For the purposes of this blog, I will take a look at three of them. None of them really go beyond speculation, so this will be short. The first theory is that the pair came across the wrong person while hitchhiking – meaning that whoever picked them up decided to kill them, though we don’t know why. Most guesses are that the driver attempted to either physically or sexually assault one or both of the couple and things went off the rails. Again, there’s no solid proof of this. It’s just a guess.
The second theory is that the pair were involved in illegal activities, such as buying or selling drugs. Again, just conjecture and internet speculation. I think this theory is a sign of the times – seemingly everyone was doing drugs on some level in the 70s. The third and final theory is that the couple was carjacked. This seems like the most likely theory to me, based on the hermit’s sighting of the couple and the fact that there was no vehicle found alongside them.
Of course, none of these theories shed light onto who these Does were in life, or who killed them. Next week, we’ll take a look at excluded missing persons and possible matches pulled from NamUs. Stay Tuned.