This month’s Doe case is another well-known one that I’ve followed for years. A young woman was found mere hours after her murder. All of her features are intact. She had extensive dental work done. So why hasn’t anyone found her name? Who is the Arroyo Grande Jane Doe? Let’s explore.
Around 9:20 PM on October 5, 1980, two brothers spotted a body face down near State Route 146 in Henderson, NV. When the police arrived, the nude body was examined and the death was ruled as a homicide. The victim had been beaten about the head and face, which possibly caused a notable gap in their teeth. There were also numerous stab wounds to the back and head area. The cause of death was thought to be a two-pronged item that was used to stab the victim, though the exact type of item has never been identified. The victim had only been dead for a few hours prior to the discovery of their body. Despite the brutal nature of the attack and the disrespect shown in leaving the victim nude, they had apparently been washed before being unceremoniously dumped on the side of the road. The only item found near the body was part of a yellow shower curtain.
The Jane Doe was young, thought to be somewhere between 17 and 19 years old (some agencies expand this range to be 13-25). They were white and had sandy blonde to light brown hair that fell to their shoulders. Their eyes were also light – though sources vary in their description, the most faithful seem to describe them as blue or hazel. At autopsy, they were measured to be 5’2” tall and weigh 103 lbs at the time of their death.
Both of this Doe’s ears were pierced once. They had a vaccination scar on their left bicep and a birthmark on her lower back. Their fingernails were painted a silver color, and they had a small “S” tattooed on their right forearm. The tattoo seemed fairly fresh and was not done professionally. Additionally, the Doe had a “suture” around one tooth, which is an uncommon procedure used to straighten a crooked tooth. A dental spacer was also found in the Doe’s mouth. Dental spacers are small rubber or metal bands placed between molars to make room for the molar bands required for braces. This likely means that the Doe had recently begun seeing an orthodontist.
Investigators hit the ground running with the investigation into the Arroyo Grande Jane Doe. Investigators sent the Doe’s fingerprints to the FBI, California Department of Justice, and the Las Vegas Metro PD, but no match was ever found. Dental details were also taken, with similarly disappointing results. When those avenues of investigation failed, composites of Jane Doe were released to the public. When nothing came of these initial steps, investigators partnered with the University of North Texas to create a DNA profile. The profile was then uploaded to DNA databases, though there have been no matches to this day. The case eventually went cold and was “closed,” though the investigation never really stopped completely. Jane Doe’s murder was the spark that pushed Clark County PD to create a cold case unit.
Jane Doe was buried in Palm Mortuary Cemetery shortly after the investigation began, though there have been several exhumations over the years. In 2002, Jane Doe was exhumed with many other Does in an effort to gather more clues in their cases. In 2003, Jane Doe was exhumed a second time because several clues were found to like them to a missing girl from California – who was then ruled out by DNA comparison. In 2009, Jane Doe was exhumed a third time for further investigation. The case was reopened and a new investigator was assigned to it in 2015, which led to renewed investigative efforts. The fourth, and last, time Jane Doe was exhumed was in 2016 to gather clues. Investigators have even gone so far to reach out to the American Dental Association to see if anyone could recognize Jane Doe’s dental characteristics. And still, there have been no substantive leads.
As of the writing of this blog, 27 missing persons have been ruled out as being Arroyo Jane Doe. These exclusions are Susan Hallowell missing from Brevard County, FL; Cheryl Ann Iacovone missing from Delaware County, PA; Mary Gregory missing from Las Vegas, NV; Laureen Rahn missing from Hillsborough County, NH; Mary Rodermund missing from St. Mary County, LA; Rebecca Rodriguez missing from Contra Costa County, CA; Barbara Bruna missing from Monroe County, NY; Tracy King missing from Adams County, PA; Angela Meeker missing from Pierce County, WA; Patricia Taylor missing from Tulsa County, OK; Debra Vowell missing from San Diego County, CA; Cindy Haumann missing from Pima County, AZ; Carol Roberts missing from Seminole County, FL; Deborrah McCall missing from DuPage County, IL; Rosie Schlicker missing from Jackson County, MO; Marilyn Milligan missing from Lafayette County, MO; Carla Corley missing from Jefferson County, AL; Sandra Butler missing from Washoe County, NV; Terry Collier missing from San Bernardino County, CA; Tammy Akers missing from Roanoke County, VA; Suzanne Schultz missing from Hillsborough County, FL; Melinda Creech missing from Madison County, IN; Rachael Garden missing from Rockingham County, NH; and Cheryl Scherer missing from Scott County, MO.
This long exclusions list is heartening, as it means that this case is still very much active. The investigating agencies have not forgotten about the Arroyo Grande Jane Doe, and the case is very much not cold. So in doing my part, I’ve sought out some matches using NamUs and the Charlie Project – I’ve found two possibilities.
Cecile Francis Moch was born on September 17, 1960. She’s white with brown hair and hazel eyes. Unfortunately, there are no color photos of Cecile available, so we don’t know the type of hazel eyes she has. She was 19 when she disappeared from Santa Barbara, CA on August 7, 1980. At the time, she stood at 5’3” tall and weighed around 100 pounds. The Arroyo Grande Jane Doe was found less than two months later. The vitals and timeframe match up here, and Cecile vanished only one state over from where Jane Doe was found. There’s a decent resemblance between the composite and known photos of Cecile.
The second possibility is Julie May Hill. She’s white with brown hair and grayish blue eyes based on photos. She vanished from Duluth, MN on July 18, 1980. She was 21 at the time and stood at about 5’3” tall and weighed about 135 pounds. Again, the timeline and vitals more or less match, though she is on the higher end of the age estimate. There are two things that made me include Julie as a match: the shape of her jaw and the shape of her nose. Both strongly resemble the new composite from NCMEC. Julie’s boyfriend was convicted of her murder in 2007, but her remains have never been located.
If you or anyone you know think you may have any information regarding the Arroyo Grande Jane Doe, please reach out to the proper authorities. The Clark County Coroner can be reached at 702-455-3210 – the contact person for Arroyo Grande Jane Doe is Felicia Borla, and the CCC case number is 80-01221. The Henderson County Police Department can be reached at 702-267-5000 – the contact person in this department is Lieutenant Botkin, and the HCPD case number is 80-39737. The National Crime Information Center case number is U898928671, the NamUs case number is 46, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children case number is 1114321.