This is an interesting pet case for me – it’s not one that got me into true crime, and it’s not a special interest, but you’ll see my reasoning once we get to the possible identities in this post. So…how does a young woman, far along in pregnancy, end up buried in a shallow grave, and how does she remain nameless after more than forty years? Let’s explore.
On August 27, 1978 two hunters discovered a shallow grave near Elgin, Oregon. The grave was beneath a log and about 100 feet from the road. The remains were facedown. They immediately notified authorities.
The remains were skeletal, so some details here are estimated, remember. The Doe is believed to be a white female, who stood somewhere between 5’1” and 5’3” and weighed between 115 to 125 lbs in life. The hair was a sandy blonde color. The age of the person was estimated to be between 14 and 25 years old at time of death. And she was pregnant, likely in the third trimester.
The shallow grave also held many clothing items believed to belong to the Doe. There was a halter-type top (sometimes listed as a bra), red Catalina pants which may have been modified, high-top sneakers, scraps of red and white cloth, and a zipper (which suggest a decomposed piece of clothing). There was also cord in the shallow grave with the body.
The Doe was taken to a local funeral home, where a pathologist examined the remains and determined the individual had been pregnant, and fetal bones were among the remains.
Investigators believed right off the bat that the Doe was not a local woman, as there had been no reports of missing pregnant women in the area. Investigators believed she had not been social if she had spent any significant time in the area, as no one came forward to mention seeing her. This led the investigators to believe that she had only been dumped in that area and had not spent any time in the area.
It was also theorized that the doe may have been a victim of Gary Ridgeway, who is better known as the Green River Killer. He was known to hide the bodies of his victims in Oregon. No link has ever been found between the Doe and Ridgeway, however.
In 1990, for some unknown and infuriating reason, the case was considered closed and all evidence was ordered to be destroyed. Including all remains – which were cremated and have since been lost.
In 2020, Redgrave Research and Dr. Amy Michael of the University of New Hampshire Forensic Science Department collaborated to create the first and only forensic reconstruction of Finely Creek Jane Doe to date.
There are currently six missing persons ruled out as being the Finley Creek Jane Doe on NamUs: Melanie Flynn of Fayette KY; Patricia Otto of Nez Perce, ID; Laura Flink of Grays Harbor, WA; Rita Jolly of Clackamas, OR; Laurie Partridge of Spokane, WA; and Teresa Fittin of Broward, FL. Sherry Pickle and Dana Lou Sanchez have been ruled out elsewhere.
Now we come to the reason this case is a pet case of mine – I see a lot of similarities between the Finley Creek Doe and Nancy Perry Baird. We covered Nancy a while ago during our series on Ted Bundy, who was known to operate in Oregon and Utah both. Regardless of whether Bundy was involved in Nancy’s disappearance, it’s really the reconstruction that caught my attention. The vitals line up, considering the remains were skeletal when found.
The only other possible candidates I have come across in my research have either already been officially ruled out or are under consideration. At this point, I’ll be submitting Nancy to make sure all bases are covered and crossing my fingers.
If you or anyone you know have any information regarding the death or identity of the Finley Creek Doe, please reach out to the proper authorities. The Oregon State Police Southern Command Center can be reached at 800-442-2068 and the OSP headquarters can be reached at 503-378-3720.