Texas Rangers Reopen “Jane Doe” Cold Case in Plainview

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Image of Henry Lee Lucas from TDCJ_2406832619896128939
PLAINVIEW — A Hale County murder mystery that sat cold for nearly 33 years will get a second chance to finally be brought to light. 

Back in February of 1982, Hale County officials found a young woman’s body, decapitated, left on a dirt road outside Plainview. Tony Arnold, an investigator with the Texas Rangers, recently happened upon the case while reviewing that of another Hale County murder from around the same time. He’s now the one heading the reopened investigation into the death of the Hale County “Jane Doe.”

“We just wanted to see what we could do to get her identified,” Arnold said. 

A serial killer by the name of Henry Lee Lucas would try to take credit for Jane Doe’s death. In the 80s he was even indicted for the murder. The charge was eventually dropped after he was sentenced to life in prison for another homicide. Jane Doe’s identity remained undiscovered. 

“They tried finger print comparisons, with negative results,” Arnold explained. “They tried a facial reconstruction, and had negative results.”

Jane Doe’s remains were buried in a Plainview cemetery under the marker “Jane Doe.” Inside that grave was a skull that, at the time, experts believed belonged to her. But the medical examiner who determined that, Dr. Ralph Erdmann, would later be discredited for falsifying autopsies. 

Arnold says there’s now doubt that the skull buried with Jane Doe’s remains belongs to the victim. 

“We could have more than one person in there.”

Those remains have now been exhumed for DNA samples. Those samples are now on their way to the Center for Human Identification at the University of North Texas. Experts there will cross reference Jane Doe’s DNA profile with those of known missing persons nationwide. 

Arnold remains hopeful this will be the step to finally solve the case. 

“We’re hoping that we’ll get an ID because technology advances every day, as well as that database grows every day.”


Related story — Plainview Grave Reopened in Case Related to Henry Lee Lucas, Says Daily Herald. 

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