The Missing: Jeannette Kamahele
This month, I’m bringing you a missing persons case that is theorized to be linked to not one, but two infamous serial killers. Jeannette Kamahele was a young woman engaging in something that we now know is terribly dangerous, but was common at the time – hitchhiking. She got into a car and was never seen again. Where did that car take her, and what happened to Jeannette? Let’s explore.
Who Is Jeannette?
Jeannette Kamahele was born on February 10, 1952. There is very little information about who she was prior to her disappearance online. It is known that she graduated from Yokohama American High School in Japan in 1970, and she was enrolled in classes at Santa Rosa Junior college at the time of her disappearance. She has been described as a good student, and a dependable person.
Beyond that, Jeannette stood at 5’5 and weighed around 120 lbs at the time of her disappearance. She has dark brown hair and brown eyes. Jeannette also has a dental bridge and a notable birthmark on the left side of her chest.
On April 25, 1972, near Santa Rosa, California, Jeannette Kamhele was hitchhiking. She was last seen on the Cotati onramp on Highway 101. She was seen getting into a brown Chevy pickup truck, dated between 1970 and 1972. The driver was a young caucasian man in his 20s or 30s with an afro hairstyle. She had been spotted by a friend who was going to pick her up. Jeannette was wearing a dark brown top, Levi brand jeans, and sandals at the time of her disappearance.
There really isn’t much to say about the investigation – it wasn’t archived digitally, from what I can find. The only significant aspect of the investigation I can find is in 1979, when a Jane Doe was ruled out as being Jeannette.
Jeannette Kamahele has never been found, deceased or alive.
There are a whole host of theories in this case so buckle up. First, let’s start off with the theory that the person who picked Jeannette was unknown to police and not a serial killer. They may have seen Jeannette hitchhiking and saw a grotesque opportunity. It seems likely to me that this is either someone not on the radar at all, or someone who is on police radar for other, unrelated crimes.
The second theory is that Jeannette was taken and murdered by Ted Bundy, though investigators have ruled him out as being a viable suspect in the case.
The third theory is that Jeannette was a victim in what has become known as the Santa Rosa Hitchhiker murders – a series of murders that took place in 1972 and 1973, and claimed at least seven lives. I won’t go into great detail here in case I cover this in the future, but the victims were runaways or hitchhikers like Jeannette. The cases are all cold, and the Santa Rosa Hitchhiker murderer was never caught – some people even believe that it may have been Ted Bundy – so this theory dovetails with the second theory.
The fourth and final theory is that Jeannette was murdered by the Zodiac Killer. From what I can tell, this is mostly because of the general area in which Jeannette went missing and the disappearance came in the wake of terror the Zodiac left. The MO doesn’t really match, and Jeannette disappeared three years after the last confirmed Zodiac activity.
My opinion is that this was most likely a crime of opportunity. For it to be solved, I think we’ll need to see some sort of deathbed confession or a witness would need to come forward. Or, if she is linked to the Santa Rosa Hitchhiker cases, some sort of DNA evidence maybe could finally be linked to a suspect through genetic genealogy.
If you or anyone you know has any information regarding Jeanette’s disappearance, please reach out to the Sonoma County Sheriff at 707-565-2185. If you reach out to them, be sure to reference case number 2679-99. This case has sat cold long enough.