I drove up to Boulder this afternoon to visit Columbia Cemetery, where I met with Mary Reilly-McNellan, who is the Project Manager for Columbia Cemetery Preservation. I had emailed her last week to ask if I could photograph Jane Doe's grave marker, which has been put away for safekeeping. Mary showed me where Jane's grave marker was locked away and I took a couple of pictures. The grave marker is no longer on the grave because the cemetery's keepers are afraid of vandalism - the cemetery was badly vandalized earlier this year. And Jane Doe is well known in Boulder for being a mystery.
In April 1954 a young woman's body was found by hikers in Boulder Canyon below Boulder Falls. She was thought to be between 17 and 20-years-old. Despite many leads and tips, the Boulder County Sheriff's Department was never able to identify the body or find the killer. Boulderites contributed funds to pay for a burial plot, Howe Mortuary provided a casket, and a grave marker was donated by the Boulder Marble and Granite Works.
In 2004 Jane's body was exhumed. A DNA sample was obtained and her face was reconstructed. Numerous newspaper articles have been written about her and a website has been set up. In March of this year, the Rocky Mountain News reported a theory by Boulder County Sheriff's Detective Steve Ainsworth that Jane Doe may have been murdered by serial killer Harvey Glatman, who was executed in 1959. An episode of TV's America's Most Wanted with a segment on Boulder's Jane Doe aired on July 8, 2006. This was the first time the reconstruction of Jane Doe's face was shown on national television. Fifty-two years after her death, her identity remains a mystery.
For more information on Jane Doe see the excellent website put together by Boulder historian and writer, Silvia Pettem. Included are recent and historical articles about the Jane Doe case.
- Boulder Jane Doe Website
- Online Colorado Death Indexes, Records & Obituaries includes a link to Columbia Cemetery burials
- Columbia Cemetery Website
Here is Jane Doe's grave in Columbia Cemetery with its missing marker. Note the single rose someone has left on the marking post. (Click on either photo for a larger view.)
Update (April 19, 2008): Silvia Pettem has located a photograph of Katharine Dyer, who was reported as missing to Denver police on March 26, 1954. Silvia believes Boulder's Jane Doe may be Katherine Dyer. For more information see:
- Photo may help identify Jane Doe in cold case (Boulder Daily Camera article)
- Side-by-side images of the reconstructed Jane Doe's likeness and the photograph of Katharine Dyer