The Baffling Case of Little Miss X

Halloween: a time of celebration and candy; of horror and ghouls and costumes and elaborate parties. There are phantoms and ghosts, but the scariness is all in good jest and one goes home at the end of the night with a sense of merriment.

But on October. 31, 1958 in Coconino County, Arizona, a young girl lay dead 10 miles southeast of the Grand Canyon. Something horrible had happened to her. And even now, over 60 years later, we still have no idea of who she was and how she met her demise.

Authorities gave her the fittingly haunting nickname of Little Miss X. Her body was found on a remote hillside dirt road off Skinner Ridge in totally skeletal condition, and therefore no cause of death could accurately be determined. They estimated that she had lain there undiscovered for at least 9 to 18 months.

With such a long postmortem interval, it would prove impossible to find any evidence or suspects in her case.

Little Miss X was anywhere from 5′ to 5’3″, approximately 105 lbs, and was white with Hispanic ancestry. She had reddish/dark brown hair that was dyed a lighter shade. Her hair was wavy, but possibly because she had gotten it permed. She was thought to have a brown skin tone.

She was determined to be anywhere from 11 to 17 years old. This is odd because anyone with even a basic knowledge of forensics knows that female skeletons show obvious signs of puberty in their pelvis and bone structure.

Remnants of the victim’s hair.

So how were police investigators so unspecific and clueless in their estimation of her age? An 11-year old’s skeleton is very different in appearance from a 17-year old’s, and the forensic pathologist performing the examination should have been easily able to differentiate. Something smells botched here…

Her teeth were well-cared for and in good condition, proving she was from some sort of middle class background. She had had seven fillings in four of her teeth during her lifetime.

Disturbingly, Little Miss X was found naked. But she did have a bunch of clothing and items lying next to her.

Necklace found at the scene.

There was a powder puff, a tiny jar of Pond’s cold cream, an 18″ 10-karat gold chain, a white nylon comb, and a blue plastic nail file with the letter P imprinted onto it, and R written by hand.

There was also a short sleeved white wool cardigan, a size 34C white cotton Maidenform Alloette bra, size small white rayon underwear, and GRAFF California Wear pedal pusher capris with a green, brown and red plaid pattern.

Weirdly, the clothes at the scene were too big for her. Investigators were unable to tell if the clothes even belonged to the girl. They probably didn’t.

Could the killer have left these items at the scene to throw off police and cause confusion? Could these items be from a different crime scene, from a different dead girl?

The comb, powder puff and Pond’s cream.

Or were these just random personal effects the killer had somehow accumulated? Some even wonder if the killer was a woman.

If Little Miss X really was an 11-year old, why would she have this type of clothing and these items anyways? This suggests something alarming, like the presence of child exploitation and a possible sex trafficking ring.

This was a case that was cold from the very beginning. Little Miss X’s identity eluded authorities, so they gave up and buried her. Four years later in 1962, she was exhumed and her body was re-examined.

The sweater found at the scene. Probably the worst possible way they could have photographed it.

Unfortunately, when the clueless authorities re-buried her; Little Miss X’s remains stayed lost for years because they had forgotten where exactly they had interred her. According to the Doe Network, her remains were finally re-discovered in the summer of 2018.

Little Miss X’s NamUs page once had an image of her skull, but it was taken down. This is important because this picture would have helped artists and amateur e-sleuths to create newer and more accurate reconstructions of her.

It is also possible that Little Miss X had shovel-shaped incisors, a common trait in those with indigenous DNA; which could be why police suspect she was of Hispanic descent. It would have been useful to concretely know this as well, as web sleuths could compare Little Miss X to missing people who also had this trait.

Sheriff Cecil Richardson and Deputy Johnny Ortiz look over the case file of Little Miss X in the 1950s.

There is a clue as well in the pants found at the scene. As previously stated, they were Graff California Wear brand capris.

Graff was founded in 1933, and became popular in the 1940s and 1950s among Californian women for their comfy and tacky two piece suits and slacks. It was modern clothing for modern women, who were constantly on the go and wanted to resemble Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce.

These were not pants that an 11-17 year old would wear, and they didn’t seem to fit Little Miss X anyways. Were authorities ever able to trace back who purchased these capris? It doesn’t seem so. Was the killer then from California? God only knows.

A very swag Graff pinstripe pantsuit.

A case this mysterious causes all kinds of speculation, and in the past false theorizing led investigators down several dead ends.

It was suspected at one point that Little Miss X was Donnis “Pinky” Redman, a California girl who vanished without a trace on March. 1, 1958. 14-year old Pinky and her 18-year old boyfriend Mike Griffin (creepy age difference imo) eloped to Las Vegas, Nevada, but their journey was cut short before they could marry.

The couple disappeared along the way, and Mike’s abandoned 1950 Dodge Clipper turned up in Williams, Arizona. Their bodies were never found.

Donnis “Pinky” Redman

Williams is an approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes drive to Skinner Ridge, where Little Miss X was found. Naturally, people would connect these two cases together; as the body and car were found just 59 miles apart.

However, Little Miss X had lain there dead for at least 9 months minimum, whereas Pinky vanished just that March of 1958. The time frame is off.

Other clues that led people to suspect Little Miss X was Pinky Redman was the fact that the latter also had a petite frame, at 5’2″ tall and 105 lbs. The age bracket also fit, and Little Miss X was found with the nail file initialed “PR.” Did it belong to Pinky?

Michael “Mike” Lawrence Griffin

Pinky was last seen wearing a yellow sweater and brown capris, similar to the clothing found near Little Miss X.

What didn’t fit was the fact that Pinky was blonde, blue-eyed, and white; whereas Little Miss X was dark haired with swarthier skin and was most likely a Latina. Investigators eventually ruled out Pinky Redman as a possible match.

It is possible, however, that the person who killed Pinky and Mike + Little Miss X was one and the same. Was there a serial killer operating in the Arizona desert in 1958?

A more recent reconstruction of Little Miss X.

In Pinky and Mike’s case, anything could’ve happened along the dusty stretch of highways that connected California to Vegas. They could’ve picked up some unruly hitchhiker, who preyed upon the young, naïve couple and stole their car.

Mike was a small ginger boy who only stood 5’3″ tall and weighed 120 lbs. Any form of criminal could have taken advantage of the poor pair. Hopefully one day their bodies are recovered from the vast and giant Arizona desert, or wherever they may lie.

Another dead end that occurred in the Little Miss X investigation was was when she was suspected of being Connie Smith.

Constance Christine “Connie” Smith was a 10-year old girl from Wyoming, whose grandfather was a former Republican governor named Nels Hansen Smith. She ran away from Camp Sloane in Salisbury, Connecticut in the summer of 1952, after being bullied by fellow campers.

On July. 16, after being punched in the face by girls the day before, Connie nursed a bloodied nose with an ice pack. She left the camp and wandered down Indian Mountain Road. People witnessed Connie walking down the road with tears in her eyes, picking daisies and trying to hitchhike back home.

After this, she was never seen again. Despite attempts by her wealthy family to track her down, Connie had vanished into thin air somewhere down that highway.

Connie’s dental records.

Police once suspected that Little Miss X was Connie, and tested the former’s teeth against Connie’s dental charts. The results proved to inconclusive, and Connie was ruled out.

And anyways, Connie was a bit too young to be Little Miss X, and physically she was much smaller; standing at 5′ tall and weighing 85 lbs.

The only explanation would then be that Connie was held captive for at least 4- 5 years, and then murdered and dumped in Arizona. But that seems to be a stretch. Also, Connie had no Hispanic or Native American DNA. It is very unlikely that she is Little Miss X.

An amateur reconstruction of Little Miss X, done by a Redditor.

It is disheartening that Connie Smith’s killer was never found. Neither was Pinky Redman’s, or the person who murdered Little Miss X.

The 1950s were a troubling era for crime; where the lack of technology rendered the identification of murderers, and even victims, as a difficult and sometimes impossible task. In Little Miss X’s case, there is so much mystery and so few answers. Though her killer is perhaps dead and gone, it could still be possible to discern her identity.

If police have not yet located Little Miss X’s body, they should do so immediately. It is tragic that faulty police work caused them to lose the unknown girl’s remains and therefore botch her case.

Coconino County, Arizona

Little Miss X lay out there in that lonely desert for perhaps a year, decomposing until she became a skeleton. She was once forgotten, but then found again on Halloween of 1958. It is time we find out who Little Miss X was, and give her back her name and dignity.

The Enigma of Eklutna Annie

A creepy clay reconstruction of the victim.

What do you think of when you imagine Alaska? You conjure up a grand, snowy vision of unconquered terrain: vast, far and endless. It is as if the icy territory lasts forever in continuous isolation and secrecy.

Since the inception of Alaska, Americans who could be categorized as misfits and unconventional loners have taken advantage of the privacy and desolation of this state, and its sparsely populated lands.

In many areas of Alaska, you are completely alone: surrounded by wild, untouched nature. You are undisturbed by the burdens of being social and fitting in.

You are free and in your natural state…. if you can survive in such an intimidating environment, that is.

Resurrection Bay, a fjord where Robert Hansen buried three of his victims.

Robert Hansen was a serial killer who used the remoteness of Alaskan terrain to torture, rape and murder young women. Many of them were sex workers, as well as young girls struggling to survive the harshness of their environment.

Eklutna Annie is perhaps his most famous victim. She is a total mystery; unidentified for over 40 years without even a glimmer of clue to who she may have been.

Annie is one of Hansen’s earliest victims, and was killed anywhere from November 1979 to June 1980.

Electricians found her badly decomposed body in a shallow grave, buried alongside a set of power lines that stretched down South Eklutna Lake Road, approximately a year after her death. Her body had been eaten away at by wild animals (particularly bears), and was left unrecognizable and in mostly skeletal condition.

A less disturbing (?) reconstruction.

Investigators tried their best to create a profile of Eklutna Annie from the remnants of her body. She was a short girl with a small frame, between 4 ft 11″ and 5 ft 3″ tall. She was thought to be anywhere from 16 to 25 years old, and had auburn/strawberry blonde hair.

She was thought to be white, but with a degree of Native American DNA. She wore a light colored sleeveless knit sweater, a brown leather jacket, jeans, and red knee-high heeled boots with a nylon zipper on the side.

Judging from her apparel, Anchorage PD officer Maxine Farrell assumed that Eklutna Annie was either a topless dancer or a prostitute. Hansen himself claimed this, but he seemed to say this about all of his victims.

Farrell was mocked by other officers for her theories:

Eklutna Lake, the general area where the victim was found.

“Shortly after that I got a report of another one missing, she was a street prostitute and I thought this is a prostitute missing, so that would match up with Eklutna Annie. After that, almost every month I had two or three women missing. That’s when I started asking questions.

I got the missing persons reports and I began to get information about relatives and information about jewelry they wore. I was a psychology major, so I knew a lot of these serial killers kept souvenirs. I finally made a spreadsheet of it …

By the time I got finished, I had about 10 girls. I went to my superiors, advised them that there was a serial killer because of the number of girls I was collecting as missing persons and they laughed at me and said no, you’re wrong. They thought I was stupid. Stupid woman thinking there’s a serial killer. I wasn’t stupid.”

Just as Farrell had claimed, officers would eventually discover that Hansen actually did keep souvenirs of his victims.

A brand new composite, created in 2020.

Officers also pondered whether she was a runaway from California, Washington, or Canada- a hitchhiker who was not originally from Alaska. Hansen, however, said she was from Kodiak, and spoke to him about living there with her family.

No ID was found on the victim, and neither did she match any missing persons reports. Who was this mysterious woman? The secret died with Robert Hansen. But then again, even he claimed to be unaware of her identity.

According to his story, he had picked up Eklutna Annie from a bar and given her a lift. He told her that he lived in Muldoon, and that he would give her a ride home. As Hansen sped past Muldoon Road, she grew suspicious and afraid, and asked him to let her out of the vehicle.

Hansen relayed the story to cops while in custody:

”I just pointed the gun and I tell her, I says, ‘Now look, if you do exactly what I tell you and don’t give me any problem whatsoever, there’s going to be no — you won’t get hurt any way, shape or form.”

But that wasn’t how it went down.

During this ride of terror, Hansen’s car got stuck on a muddy road, and he told her to get out of the car to help him. She took this as her chance to escape.

As she tried to run away, Hansen pursued and overpowered her; grabbing her by her long hair. He claimed this was when she pulled out a knife from her purse, and attempted to stab him in self defense. To the very end, she fought for her life.

Twisted Bob Hansen was an experienced hunter.

Hansen managed to tear the knife away from her, and stabbed the unknown woman in the back until she was lifeless. During the struggle, as the terrified woman realized she was going to die, she screamed out “You’re going to kill me!” in hysterical fear.

For all her bravery, she could not survive the scourge of her deranged killer. When reflecting back on Eklutna Annie’s murder, Robert Hansen said it gave him a sense of sadistic pleasure.

There was nothing he hated more than a woman who fought back against him, and nothing gave him more satisfaction than subduing and killing a wily prey.

During his 1984 interrogation by police, Hansen claimed Annie was his very first victim. However, this seems unlikely as he is suspected of killing even more women before her.

Hansen and a dead goat

Who was this sick man?

Robert Hansen was born in 1939, and grew up a shy, skinny, nerdy kid in Iowa; suffering from a stutter and chronic acne. Like his Danish immigrant father, he grew up to be a baker. Later on the media would grant him the moniker “The Butcher Baker.” He killed anywhere from 17 to 21 women until his capture, maybe even more.

His humiliating high school years, filled with rejection and inceldom, would cause him to hate women with a passion as he grew into an adult. These misogynistic tendencies would eventually become violent.

At the age of 20, he lost his virginity to a prostitute while in the army.

In high school, he was bullied because he looked like Jerry Lewis in The Nutty Professor.

At the age of 21, Hansen attempted to burn a school bus to gain vengeance for being a loser in high school. A series of petty crimes followed, which then escalated to murder in the 1970s.

Although Hansen had a track record of kidnapping, raping and abusing women, police did not suspect him of murder for many years; which allowed him to easily kill dozens of women for a decade.

Hansen was a sadist and psychopath who took refuge in Alaska to torture and murder women in a more private setting. He drove women out to remote areas, forced them to strip naked, and shot them as they ran through the snowy wilderness.

Hansen’s aviation map of Anchorage. Noted are the spots where he buried his victims.

It thrilled him to hunt live victims, and he often tortured them for days before the final coup de grace. He even had a private plane which he used to fly out victims to distant cabins where they could never be found.

Hansen was finally captured and imprisoned in 1983, after one of his victims escaped alive and spilled the beans on his disgusting antics. Although he was finally caught and locked up like the animal he was, Eklutna Annie remained unidentified.

Usually, Hansen kept his victim’s possessions as souvenirs- especially their jewelry. Not in Eklutna Annie’s case: it was one of the rare crimes in which he left the jewelry alone, most likely because she was one of his earliest murders and he was then an inexperienced killer.

Her necklace.

She had on her a plethora of beautiful and unique handmade jewelry: a copper bracelet with three turquoise stones, a heart shaped pendant, gold hoop earrings, a white shell ring, and a gold plated Timex wristwatch. She also had a pack of Salem brand matches in her pocket.

Some believe that Eklutna Annie’s jewelry was of Native origin, but authorities were never able to trace any of it back to its source. It is also worth noting that most Native jewelry is made from silver, and not gold as she was wearing.

From her jewelry, you get the impression she was an interesting woman with exquisite taste in jewelry. That morning, she had dressed herself with care and attention, never knowing it would be her last day on earth.

Her turquoise bracelet.

So if Eklutna Annie was well dressed, wearing distinctive jewelry, and a possible topless dancer/sex worker in Alaska- why didn’t anyone ever come forward to identify her? Officer Maxine Farrell had some theories:

“The fact that a prime source of information in these cases was women who worked the streets was the first obstacle. These women have very little trust in the police, which is understandable given the fact that most of the time we’re adversaries. As a result, most were reluctant to talk.

Her Timex wristwatch

The second obstacle was the constant movement of these women. In a year’s time, one of these women might work in a club, then out on the street, then in a massage parlor. She might also work the circuit and move city to city… those circuits tracked from Seattle to Anchorage to Honolulu. And after all that upheaval, this same woman might get sick of the routine and quit without giving notice…

A third obstacle was the fact that many of these women used stage names. Investigators would talk to a woman on the street or in a club, who’d tell them she had worked with a woman named ‘Tania’ a few months before — and hadn’t seen her in a while. In checking out the lead, investigators would go to some of the other clubs in the Anchorage area. At ten different clubs, they’d find 15 different ‘Tania’s.’ So which Tania was that, anyway?”

One of her hoop earrings, and her ring

This is exactly what Hansen, and other serial killers of his ilk count on. They victimize sex workers and transient women, as it is often more difficult for authorities to identify and search for them.

Hansen believed his victims were not worthy of life because they dwelled in prostitution and vice. He used excuses to justify his cruel murders. Even during his confession in which he admitted to killing Eklutna Annie, he tried to blame her by claiming she had pulled a knife on him, therefore she deserved to die.

In his twisted mind, the women he killed were nothing but his pawns. But this is untrue. This woman he killed belonged somewhere, had a family, dreams, hopes and goals. And there are many of us out there who want to find out who she was in her lifetime.

Salem Matches found in her pocket

Although investigators possess Eklutna Annie’s DNA, and have tested it against other suspected murder victims, none have ever matched up so far. The case has gone cold, to the point where we can only pray that something substantial eventually turns up.

Although she was killed near the small village of Eklutna, which has only about 70 inhabitants; she was buried in Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery, about a half an hour’s drive away. Her grave is simply marked “Jane Doe/Died 1980.”

Occasionally, visitors leave flowers on her gravestone. Sometimes, Alaskans even hold reenactments where actresses assume the role of Eklutna Annie and describe the limited details we have about her. But most importantly- she is still remembered and thought about, despite remaining nameless for over 40 years.

The Haunting Disappearance of Eileen Hynson

Eileen Francis Hynson was a 19-year old girl who disappeared off the face of the earth on June 1, 1976. No body was ever found, and her whereabouts are still unknown.

The information on her case is scarce and very limited. She was from Napa, California, living in a time period where murder and mayhem ran rampant. 1970s Cali was filled to the brim with serial killers, rapists, and kidnappers: the list of missing and murdered people from this period is almost infinite.

Eileen was born on Feb 6, 1957 (an Aquarius) and was 5’2 and 130 lbs, with dazzling hazel eyes and dark brown hair. She lived with her father and brother, since her mother Gwendolyn had died 3 years earlier in 1973. It must have been difficult for 16-year old Eileen to have dealt with such a huge loss at a very young age.

Only 2 family photos of Eileen were ever made public, and what I always found striking about these images is how she looks slightly sad yet effortlessly beautiful. And the fact that her eyeliner was completely on point.

The summer of 1976 should have been a happy time for Eileen: on that bright June day, she took off from home to attend a bridal party dress fitting. Her father claimed she first went to a resort in Lake Berryessa, a fairly remote area that is difficult to get to without a car.

Weirdly enough, Eileen did not take any luggage with her – she had left her suitcase behind at home. This indicates that she did not plan to be gone long, and rules out the possibility that she ran away from home.

In September of 1969, almost 7 years before Eileen disappeared, Lake Berryessa became infamous. The Zodiac Killer (yet to ever be identified) went apeshit on two picnicking college students. They were a square and pleasant couple named Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard, and they were just trying to enjoy some quality relaxation time in nature.

Cecelia Shepard and Bryan Hartnell before their traumatic picnic

They were intruded upon by a creepy man with an executioner’s hood and .45 pistol, like a bad B-movie come to life. The man toyed with the couple, pretending he was a runaway prisoner on the lam to Mexico. At first he claimed he only wanted to rob them. But things soon turned violent. He was the one and only Zodiac Killer, and he forced Cecelia to tie Bryan up with a plastic clothesline, and then tied her up himself.

As he pointed the gun at the couple, Bryan noticed that the Zodiac’s hands were shaking. Bryan asked if he was nervous, to which the Zodiac responded with a relaxed laugh and an “I guess so.” What happened next was without warning.

After putting away his gun, the Zodiac suddenly turned towards the bound and subdued Bryan. Brandishing a knife, he stabbed him 6 times. Later on, Bryan would note how the stabbing made a “chomp-chomp-chomp” staccato noise in his back, sending him into a world of terror and shock. Cecelia was stabbed next: 5 times in her back, and 5 times on the front of her body.

A 1969 sketch of the Zodiac Killer by Robert Graysmith, as described by Bryan Hartnell

After playing dead for a time, Bryan managed to crawl towards a main road for help, but Cecelia was too weak to even move. She was alive when authorities arrived, but went into a coma and died days later. Bryan survived the attack and went on to become a lawyer.

What can one make of this nightmare of a crime? Whether or not the Zodiac Killer was involved in Eileen’s disappearance (probably not, abducting a female quietly does not fit his M.O.), his crime proves that areas of Lake Berryessa are so isolated that somebody can attempt to commit a double murder without being interrupted.

Did Eileen Hynson fall victim to some lunatic who put her through a similarly deranged experience?

What complicates things even further is that Eileen was supposed to have left the lakeside resort to go to Benicia, California (another Zodiac killing ground), where the bridal party was happening. We have no idea why Eileen went to Lake Berryessa first, or who she met there.

Lake Berryessa in 1970

In fact, we have no clue as to where exactly Eileen disappeared – it is not even on the public record! She could have vanished anywhere between Napa, Lake Berryessa and Benicia, most likely en route between the two latter locations, as her father only grew alarmed after she left the resort.

To add to the ridiculousness, the public was never informed as to whether Eileen had a car, or if she was busing and hitchhiking between these points. Since there is no mention of an abandoned car or licence plate info, and due to the fact that she was only 19, it is plausible to assume she had no transportation of her own.

If she had her own vehicle, who managed to coax her out of it? Did a strange man pull a Ted Bundy-style manipulation on Eileen in a lone parking lot? If she was busing, did she meet a suspicious character at a stop who lured her to her doom? If she hitchhiked, which fatal car did she enter? Did she meet her end at the lake, just as Cecelia Shepard had? There are literally zero answers.

Girls walk down the street in Napa, California, 1970s

According to a Facebook post by a woman named Kathleen who claims to be her cousin, it was her wedding which Eileen was due to attend. She alleges that Eileen left her home to prepare for the bridal fitting (she was to be the Maid of Honor), and was never seen again. If Kathleen is for real, she needs to hit me up and give me an all access interview.

A user with a sharp eye on Websleuths forums uncovered a photo of a girl who strongly resembles Eileen. This image was taken by Californian serial killer William Richard Bradford; a former photographer who lured women to their deaths under the pretense of a modelling career.

This alleged photo of Eileen is #40 in a collection of 54 photographs of different women found at Bradford’s residence. Initially, they were all believed to have been Bradford’s victims. As of now, more than half have been identified, most being alive and well, though police have not released the identity of all of these women.

Girl No# 40- is this Eileen Hynson?

Some claim Girl No# 40 has been identified by police, but the info is a secret. In 2012, Napa County’s cold case unit added Eileen to a list of disappearances which “they believe have the highest possibility of being solved using modern evidence techniques.”

Is this because they identified the Bradford girl as Eileen Hynson? It is aggravating how police still continue to withhold key information, yet appear to have had no conclusive breakthrough after nearly 50 years on the case.

Another Websleuths user claims she spoke to Eileen’s family and found that they believe Girl No# 40 is Eileen, but older and possibly years after she disappeared.

There are also some theories about Eileen being a victim of the Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Killer. In the early 1970s, several young women were kidnapped and murdered while hitchhiking in Sonoma County. The killer’s trademark was tying women up (like the Zodiac!), torturing and raping them, then strangling or stabbing them to death. He was never caught.

Please don’t hitchhike to your death like a 1970s girl

All of the Santa Rosa Killer’s victims have been identified, save one: Sonoma County Jane Doe, whose skeletal remains were discovered in a ravine in 1979. She was thought to be between 16- 21 years old, wore contact lenses, had auburn-brown hair, had a broken rib heal while she was alive, and stood at around 5’3.

Her cause of death is unknown. She was hogtied, and her arm was fractured around the time she died. This sicko took pleasure in torturing his victims before killing them: In 1972, Kim Wendy Allen, 19, was raped, tied up and murdered, after being strangled with a cord for over 30 minutes.

Victims of the Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Killer. Kim Allen is #3.

The description of this Jane Doe fits Eileen, but it would be helpful if we know if she wore contact lenses or had a broken rib in her lifetime. To reiterate, the lack of info is a massive roadblock in Eileen’s case. Hopefully, the police still have her DNA on file and will eventually test her against this Doe (and others).

Eileen Hynson is still out there somewhere. Her remains could be lying untouched at the bottom of some Californian lake or a distant ravine off the edge of rocky forest cliffs. Or perhaps she is still lying nameless in a coroner’s morgue, her body forever awaiting identification. Her disappearance continues to be a frustrating unsolved mystery.

A Murder on Mulholland Drive: Marina Habe and the Twisted Odyssey of 1960s L.A. Crime

Marina Elizabeth Habe was a 17-year old college student who was violently murdered in L.A. in 1968. Her murder remains unsolved and has prompted endless speculation and theories, many of which include the rather fantastical allegations of involvement by the Manson Family.

Hollywood breeds many children of privilege, and most grow up to become bratty party queens. Enter Marina Habe. She was a dark-haired, blue-eyed beauty- by all accounts a shy, quiet, and moral Catholic girl attending college at the blissfully located University of Hawaii.

Her mother was B-movie bit part actress Eloise Hardt, and her father was author Hans Habe, a Hungarian-Jewish refugee of WWII who fled Europe after publishing the unflattering original name of Adolf Hitler’s father Alois (it’s Schicklgruber, if you’re curious). Her parents made an odd couple, and went on to divorce promptly. Hans moved to a beautiful Swiss village and married a 6th wife, leaving Marina in the care of her mother. He wrote dozens of bestselling books until his death in 1977.

Aftermath (1948) by Hans Habe, a critique of the “empancipated” postwar American woman

Eloise was always busy filming roles for the silver screen and TV. In fact, her IMDB credits show only a 2 year hiatus period after her daughter’s death. She was never a big star, but she was committed and reliable in performing small roles.

Marina was sent off to Hawaii after graduating high school, and she seemed to have no complaints about relocating to the sunny paradise. Her future seemed bright. She was attaining an arts degree, and planned to become an actress. With her mother being an industry veteran, this would have been a piece of cake.

At the close of 1968, Eloise had Marina return home to L.A. for the holidays. The pair spent Christmas together, and New Year’s Eve soon approached. Little did they know that Marina would not live to see 1969.

Eloise Hardt, actress and mother

It was the night of December 29, and Marina was out on the town partying with friends. She was accompanied by her date, 22-year old John Hornburg, who was 5 years her senior. The pair were with two other couples at the Troubadour nightclub, watching Larry Hankin’s stand up comedy act. Personally, this is not the comedian I would have selected for my last night on earth.

The couple left the club at 11:30 PM, and hung out in Marina’s expensive sports car for a couple of hours, parking near John’s Brentwood home. They most likely engaged in a heavy makeout sesh and other R-rated activities.

At 3:15 AM, Marina changed out of her swanky date ‘fit and into a white turtleneck sweater, a lux fur trim coat, and brown capris. She began her drive home. This is where the mystery of her fate begins.

The Troubadour Nightclub

At her West Hollywood home on 8962 Cynthia Street, Eloise was awoken by noisy muffler exhaust sounds from a car engine – an unknown black vehicle was parked in her driveway. Marina’s car was parked right next, but she was nowhere to be seen. Eloise then saw a young man in his 20s running towards the black car yelling, “Let’s go!” The driver gunned the engine, and the occupants of the vehicle took off.

Marina disappeared without a trace, kidnapped by ominous men right out front on her driveway. When her car was examined, police claimed that the handbrake was set with such force that it was impossible for petite Marina to have done so herself.

Marina’s yearbook photo

Eloise was hysterical with worry, and called the police. According to her stepson’s dramatic account, she paced her bungalow screaming “Why don’t you take me [instead]?” Hans Habe left Switzerland to return to L.A. immediately. They waited in vain for a ransom note from the kidnappers, but there was only silence.

Two and a half days later on Jan. 1, 1969, a couple walking on Mulholland Drive noticed a discarded purse. Inside, there were Marina’s credit cards, makeup and a small amount of cash. This did not bode well, as it showed that whoever kidnapped her had clearly had no interest in money or extortion.

A passing civilian’s dog then discovered Marina’s mutilated corpse 30 feet off the side of the road down a ravine. Puzzlingly, the dog’s owner requested that police ensure that his name would appear in the newspaper. His wish does not appear to have been granted.

Lover’s Lane on Mulholland Dr, 1950s

There was so much overgrown foliage in the ditch that detectives had failed to spot her body from the search helicopter which circled above Bowmont Drive for days. She was found only 4 miles from her home, and very close to the house of Robert Goulet, AKA the weird turtleneck singer guy Will Ferrell does impressions of.

There are many conflicting reports online as to the condition of Marina’s body and the time of her death. Some allege she was killed the same night she was kidnapped, mere hours later. Others claim she was held captive for over a day and fed by her captors.

While many sensational news outlets claim she was raped, the official coroner’s report pointed to the conclusion that Marina had recently had consensual sex, most likely with her date John Hornburg during the parked car rendezvous. There were no signs of sexual assault or forcible entry on her body. Either way, it would prove impossible to tell with complete certainty exactly what had happened to Marina after she was abducted.

Marina bled to death after being stabbed by several attackers

The autopsy report from Jan. 2, 1969 says that she was found lying supine near dense brush. She was fully clothed, with the exception of her shoe, which was tossed nearby. Marina was 5’5 and 128 lbs, and had alcohol in her system at the time of death. Her last meal was vegetarian-based.

There are rumours that she was burned and found nude, but these allegations are categorically false.

Marina’s wounds were extensive and sordid. She had two black eyes caused by a man’s fist, as well as blunt force trauma inflicted with a small hard object. Her throat was cut so violently that her left carotid artery was severed, and her liver was lacerated.

She was also stabbed numerous times in the chest and neck, with one deep slash penetrating her breastbone through her sternum. None of these wounds were fatal, however, and her cause of death is listed as exsanguination, or death by excessive blood loss.

Notably, there were no defense wounds on her body. This indicates that Marina was either physically incapacitated (by her injuries, or due to being restrained by her captors), or she was just too afraid to fight back.

Marina’s grave at Holy Cross Cemetery in L.A.

The report also said that an old motorcycle frame was found near Marina’s feet, which is strange because newspapers never dished this rather juicy clue and cops never discovered its origin. Was this the case of a biker gang gone mad?

The coroner determined that at least two different knives were used in the frenzied attack. By now, it was certain that there was more than one person involved in Marina’s murder.

Marina’s Catholic funeral was attended by 350 mourners at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. A priest by the name of Father Acton gave a rousing speech:

“We wonder about a society, the products of which can be… capable of such heinous crimes. There you have the perfect formula for bitterness, resentment, hatred, perhaps despair. This we must guard against.”

It is said that Eloise was never be able to recover from the murder of her only child, and spent years obsessing over it, full of guilt and despair. She was 99 years old when she died in 2017.

Hans and Eloise at their daughter’s funeral

Marina Habe’s homicide was never solved, despite the fact that there were 6 detectives and 20 deputies on the case. At the time, Sherriff Harold White claimed that the LAPD was “trying very hard. But we have turned up nothing that is even remotely interesting.” There appears to have been no official police suspects as released to the media.

Enter the Manson Family: There is zero concrete evidence to link Charles Manson & Co. to Marina’s murder, but that hasn’t stopped true crime enthusiasts from coming to far-fetched conclusions. It seems that every late 1960s unsolved California murder is blamed on the Mansons, without actual proof.

When interviewed about his whereabouts on the night of Marina’s murder, Manson stated he was at a New Year’s eve party thrown by John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas. Lucky him!

The low IQ Manson Girls sing songs in court while on trial for the Tate & LaBianca murders

There are harebrained claims that Marina was friendly with certain Manson Family members, such as Bruce Davis, Bobby Beausoleil or Tex Watson. These three men were known as the Family lotharios: they would befriend women (sexually) and then attempt to recruit them into the Family, all at the behest of Charlie M. LSD-fueled orgies were said to have followed.

Friends claim Marina was too “square,” and too rich and high-class to associate with hippie hoodlums like the Family. The time frame in which she would’ve befriended them is skewed as well: Marina was attending college in Hawaii for most of 1968.

It is worth noting, however, that Angela Lansbury’s daughter Deidre joined the Manson Family in the 1960s, much to her mother’s chagrin, despite also being a wealthy and famous celebrity child. Though unlike Marina, there is actual evidence of her doing so.

Charles Manson and other Family members are arrested in a 1969 raid on Spahn Ranch

In 1968, the Manson Family ran an illegal car and motorcycle chop shop in the desert, next to Spahn Movie Ranch. They bought and recycled stolen auto parts, and were involved in the death of a 16-year old supplier named Mark Glen Walts. He was shot to death and dumped in Topanga Canyon near Mulholland Drive.

Coincidence, or not? Does the motorcycle frame found on Marina’s corpse point to the Mansons? Or was it some other biker gang gone haywire, such as the Hell’s Angels? It is glaringly evident that the police failed to investigate her case properly.

Marina’s death is also tied to several other unsolved murders, such as the Nov. 1969 homicide of Reet Jurvetson, a 19-year old girl dumped on Mulholland Drive, very close to where Marina was discovered. She was stabbed over 150 times, and like Marina, her carotid artery was severed and she was discovered in a ravine.

Reet Jurvetson: does she resemble Marina, or am I crazy?

In the same month of the same year, Scientologists Doreen Gaul and James Sharp were found gruesomely butchered to death in L.A. Their eyes were cut out, they were run over with motorcycles, and they had been whipped with chains. They were stabbed nearly 60 times each, and Doreen had been raped.

Like Reet and Marina, their cases are still unsolved, and the only suspects anyone can come up with are, you guessed it, The Manson Family.

It is very likely that all of this could have been the work of an unknown serial killer who was active in the late 1960s, or a rogue biker gang. L.A. was in the midst of a hippie flower-power revolution, and any number of creepy psychopaths could have taken advantage of this cultural chaos to kill young, beautiful and vulnerable women. Charles Manson was just one among many.

19-year old Doreen Gaul

To muddle the waters even further, let us return to Marina’s actress mother, Eloise Hardt. In 1966, she starred in a hauntingly atmospheric horror film named Incubus. This was one of Eloise’s larger roles, and she received top billing.

Incubus is a must see for vintage B-movie fans, as it was filmed entirely in Esperanto and starred William Shatner in all his pre- Star Trek glory. It was directed by Leslie Stevens, creator of the spooky TV series The Outer Limits. What does this nerdy trivia have to do with the murder of Marina Habe, you ask?

Simple: the film is said to be cursed. It sounds ridiculous, but the horrific occurrences that plagued the stars of Incubus makes for interesting reading.

Eloise Hardt in Incubus (1966)

Shatner claimed that while on set in Big Sur, a weird hippie approached the cast and crew, asking too many questions and irritating the actors, who responded curtly. The hippie was indignated, and loudly recited a curse that was supposed to have damned all those involved in production. Did he really? Or was he just high as shit?

In another odd link to the Manson Family, Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski attended the San Francisco Film Festival premiere. Sharon would be slaughtered by the Family three years later in 1969.

Mere weeks after filming wrapped, actress Ann Atmar committed suicide. She was a part time girlie mag pinup who killed herself at only 27 years old, before the film even premiered.

Ann Atmar, victim of the incubus

There is no further information available on her death, or why she killed herself. Could it have been due to the disturbing part she played in Incubus? Her character was that of a naive blind girl who is brutally raped by a demon, played by Serbian actor Milos Milos.

Born Miloš Milošević, the hot-tempered Serb was a streetfighter and former bodyguard of Alain Delon. Shortly after Incubus’ release, he murdered Barbara Ann Thomason, wife of Mickey Rooney, whom he was having an affair with. He then shot himself. Some suspect ol’ Mickey was in on the crime, enacting revenge for his cuckoldry.

Eloise and Milos attempt to kill Shatner in a tragicomic scene from the film

This bad publicity basically tanked the film in all regards. And then, years later, the curse was completed with the unsolved murder of Eloise Hardt’s daughter Marina. The film itself would be lost until 1993, when it was discovered archived in a French cinematheque.

With the case of Marina Habe, everything must be taken with a grain of salt. The Manson Family and Incubus curses aside, her story is a dark one that seems to have uncorked all sorts of evils in its wake.

Whoever killed Marina Habe on that dark New Year’s Eve of 1968 is possibly still out there, or has died unpunished. But her story lives on, and that of so many other women whose lives were claimed in the crazed frenzy of late 1960s L.A.

Dead in a Desert: The Murder of Valentine Sally

In the early morning hours of Feb 3, 1982, a young girl with a toothache showed up at an old truck stop in the midst of a dusty Arizona desert. She was blonde, youthful, and beautiful; catching the eye of everyone around her. And she would soon be dead.

She was nicknamed Valentine Sally, after the day her body was discovered. But there was nothing romantic about her death.

On Feb 2, a university student claimed to have picked up a hitchhiking girl who matched her description. The girl was troubled and was escaping from a discordant family situation. She lived with friends and had the unfortunate profession of dishwasher, and was looking to hitchhike all the way to New Jersey. Sad to say, she wouldn’t make it.

That fateful morning at the truck stop was when she was last seen alive, and was most likely where she met her killer. Waitress Patty Wilkins said of her:

″She was a blonde, a pretty girl. I assumed she was about 16 or 17 years old. We’ve been in this little truck stop for 17 years and as a rule when a girl comes in off a truck and looks too young, we pull her off, the sheriff’s office comes along and they send her home.″

The old man wore a cowboy hat with a peacock feather on it

But this time, Patty would not report the teenage runaway to the sheriff. That’s because the girl was accompanied by a concerned old man in his 60s, dressed head to toe in cowboy gear. Some sources even claim she was accompanied by two men, and witnesses in the truck stop say they appeared almost familial.

The girl was in pain because her lower molar had been drilled for a root canal, and her mouth hurt too much to eat any food. She asked for aspirin instead. Whoever she was, this girl was definitely a homeless hitchhiker suffering something awful.

However, she was wearing a nice pair of designer jeans, as well as a candy-cane striped red and white sweater. She was around 5’5 and 120 lbs, a healthy weight for her size. The girl wore a 36C bra, had her ears pierced, and had a white handkerchief with her. To outsiders, she appeared well taken care of. She didn’t appear disheveled or poor, and could somehow afford dental care.

There were several scars on her feet and thighs, indicating either clumsiness or abuse.

The cozy pinstripe sweater

On Valentine’s Day, 11 days after she was seen at the truck stop, the girl was found dead near Interstate 40. There had been an accident by the highway, and authorities were looking for blown out car parts. Instead they saw a strawberry-blonde head face down in the sand.

Upon turning the body over, police discovered that most of her face had been eaten away by animals, as she had lain decomposing for almost 2 weeks in the arid and humid desert. Some animal had torn off and made away with her right ear.

She was lying under a cedar tree, about 25 ft from the main road. Her belt loops were nearly torn and her sweater pulled over her head, as her killer had dragged her corpse off of a truck by her clothes and flung her onto the ground.

The girl’s cause of death is unknown, but authorities suspect suffocation. Thankfully, she had not been sexually assaulted.

A rather creepy 1982 sketch of Valentine Sally

Police were unable to solve this perplexing case. They never found the creepy old truck driver(s) who accompanied Valentine Sally to the diner, and most assume that he was the killer and had gotten away with it. The 1970s and 1980s were an era of impunity for long-distance truck drivers who killed naive hitchhikers.

In 1984, Valentine Sally was misidentified as Melody Cutlip, a Floridian runaway, thanks to a moronic odontologist literally named Homer. Melody’s mother rejected the identification. Call it a mother’s intuition.

Homer mismatched the teeth of the two girls, and Melody returned to her parents’ home in 1986 alive and well, proving him wrong. Tragically, Melody would die in 1998 in a car accident, cutting her action-packed life short.

Valentine Sally lies in a grave wrongly marked “Melody Cutlip,” over 30 years after the world realized that was not even her. The only person that comes out of this ordeal with some humanity is the waitress Patty Wilkins, who last saw the blonde girl with the toothache alive.

Patty paid $168 in 1984 to have Valentine Sally buried in a decent grave. Adjusted for inflation, that is over $400. And that was on a truck stop waitress’ salary. Perhaps she felt haunted by the girl who left her diner, only to lose her life as well.

The Chilling Disappearance of Asha Degree

Asha Degree was a nine-year old girl who went missing from her North Carolina home on Feb 14, 2000, and was never heard from again.

The case is startling for many reasons, the most disturbing aspect of it being that she appears to have willingly left her bedroom on a rainy night around 3 AM to go outside for a yet to be explained cause.

Asha had packed her black bookbag and Tweety purse with several items before leaving home, including a few pairs of shirts, overalls, jeans, her basketball uniform, a pair of shoes, her wallet, family photos and a house key. Where was a 9-year old girl going with these items in the middle of the night? The lack of answers is puzzling.

Around 4 AM, two separate drivers saw a little girl in white shirt and pants walking down Highway 18. One of the motorists became concerned how “strange [it was that] such a small child would be out by herself at that hour,” especially due to the fact there was a heavy pouring rainstorm that night. The driver tried to pull over to help the girl, but Asha seemed to have been upset by this and ran deep into the woods to avoid him.

When her parents awoke the next morning around 6 am, it was Valentine’s day and the couple’s anniversary. They found their daughter had disappeared without a trace.

This was a shock to them as Asha was a shy, reserved girl who was afraid of dogs and never acted wildly or unpredictably. By all accounts, her family was strict and disallowed computers in the home, and always made sure their kids did their homework on time. Asha was on her 4th grade basketball team, and had cried about losing a game a few days before her disappearance.

Police performed a search all over Asha’s neighbourhood the very same morning, but could not find anything until Feb 15, during which they discovered candy wrappers, a pencil, a marker and a Mickey Mouse hair bow in a shed close to the highway Asha had been seen walking down.

Aged composite of Asha in her 20s

No other evidence was discovered until a year later in 2001, when Asha’s bookbag was dug up during construction work near Highway 18. The bag was wrapped in plastic, and had Asha’s name and phone number inside it. The FBI went on to DNA test the bag, but the results were kept secret. No evidence of Asha was ever found after this, though police did say she may have been seen getting into a green 1970s Lincoln or Ford on the night of her highway excursion.

The discovery of Asha’s buried backpack from the highway construction site was a bad sign, proof to many that someone had killed her. There are many theories about what happened to her, but few answers.

Some say Asha had left the home to prepare a Valentine’s + anniversary surprise for her parents. Some say her parents had done something to cause her to run away, or were involved in a more unnerving manner. Others believe a predator in Asha’s life lured her outside somehow, then kidnapped and killed her. Asha could have been a victim of a hit and run, with the rain washing away any evidence of her death on the highway. Or even more skin-crawling, somebody could have picked the girl up off of the road and kidnapped her that night.

There is no closure as of yet, but this is one of the most mysterious and frightening unsolved disappearance cases in recent American history. There must have been something deeply wrong in her life for a girl so young to go off alone on a stormy night without telling anyone, and then to vanish with no explanation. Wherever Asha may be, and to whomever may have abducted her, one can only say this: Her disappearance will never be forgotten.

Shot to Death and Dumped by the Shore: The Lime Lady

The “Lime Lady” is an unidentified murder victim found in Jones, Oklahoma in April of 1980. She was discovered naked on the shore of the North Canadian river and died by 3 gunshot wounds to the chest. She was approx. 18-25 yo, and slender at 5′7 and 115 lbs. Her face and chest were freckled.

She was nicknamed after the quicklime her killer had tried to use to enhance her decomposition, but it had the opposite effect and due to the river’s moisture, she was almost mummified. She was clothed when she was murdered, her killer having stripped her nude after death.

A creepy composite sculpture

Her arms showed evidence that someone had dragged her to the river to kill her, and her killer appeared to have been walking towards her when shooting her. The force of one bullet had embedded a dime in her chest.

Said police chief Bob Green; “We have never been able to identify this girl for all this time. I believe she was dumped there and that this was the second crime scene. She was killed elsewhere.”

The 1cm heart tattoo above her left breast

The only unique identifiers on her were an appendectomy scar and a heart-shaped tattoo on her chest. She has been unidentified for nearly 40 years. Police suspect she may have been killed by a biker gang, or was a runaway from a foster home, but nothing has ever been confirmed. The Lime Lady’s life and end remain an unsolved mystery.

Update:

As of Jan. 30, 2020, The Lime Lady has finally been identified as U.S. military soldier Tamara Lee Tigard!

40 years after her death, DNA Doe Project solved the mystery by uploading her file to their database, using samples of blood, oral swabs, and dental x-rays to make their conclusion.

Tamara was born in California in 1959, and was killed before her 21st birthday. She held an SPC (Specialist) rank in the army. On Feb. 24, 1979 in Nevada, she married a Chadwick Ryan Carr; a man with an extensive criminal record. They divorced mere months later. He is still alive and in his 60s.

Oddly, she was living in Las Vegas at the time at the time of her death. Tamara disappeared without a trace after leaving her home to go for a walk.

How did she end up dead over 1000 miles away in Oklahoma? This question is yet to be answered. There was a 4 week window between her disappearance and the discovery of her body near the North Canadian river.

Tamara’s police case was closed long ago after a woman falsely used her identity in Ohio. The identity of this woman is now unknown, as well as the extent of her involvement in Tamara’s murder. Police do, however, have a photo of the identity thief and are working on finding her.

Unfortunately, all of Tamara’s immediate family members are now deceased. The only people that could be notified of her body’s discovery were second cousins. Sadly, her parents died without ever knowing what happened to their daughter.

Tamara’s killer is still yet to be found. Let us hope the killer is uncovered and that she receives posthumous justice!

Jean Spangler’s Eerie 1940s Hollywood Disappearance

It was October. 7, 1949, and 26-year old actress and model Jean Spangler was living out her last known day on earth. After this, she would vanish like a mirage, without a trace. She left behind a mystery more tangled than a film noir plot.

Jean asked her sister-in-law Sophie to babysit her five-year old daughter while she went out that evening. It was 5 pm in autumn L.A., and the sun was setting on the city of dreams. Where was Jean going?

Jean claimed she was meeting her ex-husband Dexter Benner, to discuss an increase in child support payments. One can imagine he wasn’t too happy with that. Their marriage had ended in a messy divorce three years earlier, with a dramatic custody battle in which Dexter declared Jean an “unfit mother,” and threatened to take her daughter away from her forever.

Jean cries during her 1948 custody battle

She was known to be a party girl who ran in a rough crowd of mobsters, wannabe bit-part players, and Hollywood B-list stars. Jean was like a slightly more successful Elizabeth Short, although they both shared the same jet-black hair, sea-blue eyes and ambition for stardom. And they would both have their lives snuffed out much too early.

Before Jean’s disappearance, actor and friend Robert Cummings had claimed she had told him “I have a new romance,” and when asked if it was serious, she had said “Not really, but I’m having the time of my life.” Jean was known to be terrible at choosing men, as every relationship she had would end in financial, legal or physically violent disaster.

Later on, stumped detectives would complain how “The only thing we’ve been able to find out, is that this girl really got around.” 

Even more troubling, Jean was believed to be three months pregnant before she vanished. And she was not ready to deal with another child. Her friends had claimed she was searching for a doctor to perform a back-alley abortion, as the procedure was illegal at the time.

The troubled girl originally from grim Seattle, who wormed her way into glamorous L.A. and Hollywood supporting roles, could not steer clear of dangerous men. There would be far too many suspects in this case, and far too few answers.

Two hours after Jean left home that cool autumn evening, she phoned Sophie and let her know she would be coming home late because she was filming on a movie set. Later on into the investigation, the Screen Extra’s Guild would inform police that they had found no evidence she was working that night.

The last confirmed appearance of Jean was at a farmer’s market near her home at 6 pm. An employee said Jean appeared to be waiting for someone. Her whereabouts afterwards remain a mystery.

Sophie grew alarmed when Jean didn’t return home the next morning, and reported her disappearance to the police.

Jean’s discarded purse was soon found in a park 9 km from her home, with the straps nearly torn off, indicating some sort of violent force. Her body would never be found, and she seemed to have vanished into thin air.

The purse with the broken straps

In her purse was a cryptic note:

“Kirk: Can’t wait any longer, Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way while mother is away.”

Police took this to mean that Jean was aborting the baby of a man named Kirk, and Dr. Scott was the abortionist she had snuck away to see that night. Or it was a bizarre Star Trek reference.

Her mother had gone away to visit family in Kentucky at the time, but other family members were still present at the home. It seemed absurd to think that she would’ve been able to hide a bloody and messy illicit abortion from her mother, daughter, sister-in-law, and brother.

The theories of what happened to disappearing Jean are as follows:

No# 1. The killer was Kirk Douglas, alleged to have a mean streak towards women (read about his supposed rape of Natalie Wood). Jean had a bit part in Young Man with a Horn, a corny 1950 musical starring Kirk, Lauren Bacall, Doris Day, and Hoagy Carmichael. She was on her way up, climbing the map of stars, but somebody would tear her down.

Kirk claimed to not have known Jean, then later recanted that they had talked a bit on set. Jean’s mother claimed a man named Kirk had once picked her daughter up from home, but had chosen to wait in his car rather than come inside. Many claim the coincidence in name was too odd to be true, as how many women out there get down with a Kirk? Perhaps they had a secret affair, and things went sour when he found out she was pregnant.

Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall on the set of Young Man with a Horn

2. Ex-husband Dexter Benner and his new wife Lynn had killed Jean due to her requesting more ample child support payments, and for being a hindrance in general for the couple. Lynn was supposed to be a friend of mobster Mickey Cohen, and Dex was still bitter about having lost custody of his daughter. This makes for a toxic formula.

Jean had also cheated on Dexter with a man named Scotty during their marriage, which caused the couple to divorce. Dex could have been holding a humiliation and rage-fueled grudge for this, and finally exploded in violence. However, Lynn covered for Dexter and gave him an alibi, saying they were together when Jean’s disappearance occurred.

3. Scotty, the man Jean had an affair with. Like in the plot of From Here to Eternity, Jean had met Scotty while her husband was stationed in the army in the South Pacific.

Spurned ex-husband Dexter Benner

He was said to be a tall and handsome air corps lieutenant, who was much better at giving her a good time than her stuffy manufacturer businessman husband. Jean seemed to have only married Dexter for the financial stability he had given her, and looked for excitement outside of the marriage.

The tropical romance with Scotty had turned violent, and he eventually beat Jean and gave her a black eye. Scotty threatened to kill her if she ever left him. This was the last straw for Jean, and she ended the affair. Scotty’s lawyer claimed they hadn’t spoken since 1945. Some suspect the “Scott” in the note is damning evidence, but the lieutenant was nowhere close to being a doctor.

4. The suspicious “Dr. Scott” mentioned in the letter was an abortionist Jean had gone to see that night. The risky procedure went wrong, and Jean had died, causing the doctor to panic and dump her body somewhere secret. The police were never able to find this elusive suspect, or any other abortionist or doctor who they could link to Jean.

The infamous note

5. Mobsters had killed Jean. She was romantically linked to gangster Davy Ogul, who himself disappeared two days after Jean had. He was the henchman of mob boss Mickey Cohen, ironically also a friend of her ex-husband’s wife. Some say he had turned against his former boss, and planned to testify against him in court. Months after Jean’s disappearance, a hotel clerk would claim she saw her in the company of Davy and other mob men in Texas.

Despite all these leads, police could not piece together any coherent resolution. The case was more muddled than a Raymond Chandler noir novel, and even worse, no more physical evidence was found after the discovery of Jean’s purse and the brief note.

Police search for Jean’s remains at Griffith Park

Dexter gained custody of the couple’s daughter Christine after his wife’s vanishing, though Jean’s mother attempted to gain visitation rights. Defying court orders, Dexter and Lynn took the girl to Florida and never returned.

As for Jean’s mother, she said about her daughter “I’m sure she would have communicated with us if she was alive and free. And nobody can tell me she’d have left her baby unless she was forced to.”

Mother Florence mourns her daughter

The case went stone cold, and no more useful evidence was discovered after 1950. Some even claim she was murdered by the same unknown killer who had taken the life of the Black Dahlia a few years earlier. The dark-haired beauties remain symbols of lost dreams in the nightmarish and crime-filled landscapes of 1940s L.A.

Jean was the prototypical Old Hollywood starlet searching for fame and fortune on the silver screen, but instead she sunk down into the harrowing and hellish depths of tinseltown, and was mostly likely kidnapped, murdered, and disposed of by a cruel individual. And so what else could have been said by 1949 newspapers other than this: Jean Spangler has vanished and we will never see her beautiful black and white silhouette onscreen as a lead.

Jean’s five year-old daughter Christine would never see her mom again

The Girl Who Vanished: Rory Gene Kesinger

Rory Gene Kesinger was a 24 year old drug dealer, bank robber and gun runner who went missing in 1973 and was never heard from again.

What stands out about her are bizarre tales of her escapes and encounters with authority, which were like something out of a vintage Hollywood movie. She is perhaps the most interesting forgotten female outlaw out there.

Rory was a 5’3, 118 lbs beauty with translucent blue eyes, caught up in the stereotypical hippie vagabond lifestyle of the 1970s. She ran away from home at the age of 15. Her family has never seen her since then.

Looking baked in an odd mugshot

Ironically, her father was a security director who prevented shoplifting in department stores. He could not, however, control his wild daughter. In 1969, Rory’s dad wrote a hilarious Letter to the Editor column in the Daily Illinois State Journal, regarding the “out of hand” situation of youths and shoplifting:

“We in security realize that shoplifting is sometimes brought about in our younger set because of their desire to feel ‘in’ with friends. Whatever that ‘thing’ is, kicks derived from theft would no longer be if these same youths were educated as to the consequences a court conviction would have on their young lives.”

Poor Mr. Kesinger. Can you imagine this square and sanctimonious man’s reaction to his daughter’s sexy, exciting life of crime? He was, most likely, traumatized.

Rory really got around: she was said to have been wanted by police in several states, such as Kansas, California, Texas, and Alaska.

A cop found Rory running around naked in the woods of Pembroke, Massachusetts, dressed only in lingerie in January of 1973.

She informed him that she had been raped, but when he took her to the safety of his home, she switched out the lights, pulled out a gun and told him “I’m sorry, but I have to kill you.” 

The officer managed to tackle and wrestle the gun away from Rory, and afterwards stated that, “You would just not think that a nice- looking girl like that would kill you in a heartbeat.”

After being escorted to a hospital, Rory pulled a gun on a caseworker, as well as a cop, yelling “die you fucking pig.” She was tackled down and subdued yet again.

An avid drug user, Rory was supposedly high during all of these arrests, which gave her the courage to act stupidly brave, even when in the cross-hairs of a gun. Perhaps this also brought about her demise.

Rory was finally incarcerated in Plymouth County jail, but on the night of May 26, 1973, she managed to escape when someone smuggled a hacksaw inside the jail to her. A corrupt guard may have also been involved.

She sawed the bars off of her cell and tied bedsheets together to escape into the dark and foreboding summer night.

The sheriff says that “in the old prison, which is still up, you can still see the cut marks on the bars where she cut out.” What a legend.

After this escape she was never seen again and was most likely killed and then secretly buried by her criminal associates.

15-year old Rory in her high school portrait.

According to Provincetown police Detective Warren Tobias, he was informed by an associate of Rory’s who was arrested with her in 1974 that she was “pushing up daisies.” There was no doubt that she did not live long after her daring dash from jail.

Rory was long suspected to be the Lady of the Dunes, an unfortunate young woman who was found murdered on a beach blanket on July 26, 1974 in Massachusetts.

The poor red-haired girl was raped, strangled so hard that she was nearly decapitated, violently bludgeoned on one side of the head, and her hands removed to prevent fingerprint identification.

The battered corpse of the victim, found in brush by a road.

However, after exhuming the body and testing it alongside Rory’s elderly mother (the poor woman was in her 80s at the time), it was found that there was no DNA match between them. Rory is not the Lady of the Dunes!

Sadly, Rory’s body was never found, nor any viable trace of her yet. Her fate (as well as that of the Dunes Lady) is still an unsolved mystery.

She Died in Style: San Bernardino Jane Doe

Her 33 ½ inch gold waist chain with a gold heart pendant

Some Jane Does don’t have any composite drawings of them available because they were too badly decomposed when they were discovered. Sadly, this was the case for unidentified homicide victim San Bernardino Jane Doe.

Dark-blue bikini top

What managed to survive was her stylin’ fit, which is maybe an insensitive aspect to note, but no other information on her exists so this is all we are left with.

Silver wrist watch with “G&V” superimposed over it

She was found buried in a shallow grave off a California highway in November 2001, wrapped in plastic and tied with duct tape. Whoever wanted her gone took pains to to discard her body. However, due to construction on the Lucerne Valley road, a worker discovered her by pure luck.

On an odd side note, this Doe’s burial was very similar to Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks, who was also found “dead, wrapped in plastic.”

ZANA DI shorts with a design embroidered around the leg (caked with dirt)

The Doe had been decomposing for several months, and her remains were unrecognizable. She was Hispanic, a short girl at only 5 ft tall, had long brown/auburn hair, and was most likely in her 20s. 

Fake nails painted red with yellow flames

Sad to say, this poor girl’s identification hinges on her fashion sense. If by chance some day a family member or a friend comes across these images and remembers “hey, she used to dress like this,” that will be the lost key to this cold case. For now, this Doe’s name is lost to history.