Scott Adams was in kindergarten in Blue Earth when the story broke about a woman's body being found in a ditch along Interstate 90 between the Blue Earth and Frost exits.
He was in eighth grade when the killer confessed and was convicted of the crime. He remembers hearing all about it at the time. How no one knew the identity of this woman, called 'Jane Doe,' who was apparently hitch hiking, picked up by a Minnesota State Highway Patrol trooper, and brutally raped, tortured, mutilated, strangled and killed. It was a shocking story, both locally and across the state.
But there was one unanswered question.
Who was she?
Little did Adams know that in 2006, as a Faribault County sheriff's deputy and investigator, he would be given the then 26-year-old cold case to investigate.
He got hooked on it.
Adams followed up on dozens of leads that came into the Faribault County Sheriff's Office every year. He reinvestigated old leads becoming an expert on missing persons from across the country. He estimates there have been hundreds, maybe even thousands, of possible leads which have all been checked.
But, none have ever panned out.
Deb Anderson, of Blue Earth, got hooked on the Jane Doe case 13 years ago.
After learning about it, she could not stop thinking about how Jane Doe's family must feel, not knowing where their relative was, or what happened to her.
She made it her personal mission to try and find out. And, to keep Jane Doe's killer behind bars. She and Adams have testified at his parole hearings.
It has also been Anderson who has been requesting Jane's body be exhumed and DNA tests be done, to see if a match can be made.
Adams says there have been reasons the exhumation has not been done in the past.
One reason was the expense. Another was being able to justify having a judge give permission. Would anything actually be gained from exhuming the body.
But, there is now new technology that makes sense to have it and be able to get a court order to do it. This technology includes things like tracing both the mother and father's DNA history, Isotopic tests that can reveal what regions of the country and even the world a person has lived. And, 3-D Imaging, which can give a very good model of what Jane Doe looked like. (Her face was too mutilated at the time she was found to see what she actually looked like when alive.)
An added bonus was that Adams had been working hard to get all of this new investigative work done for free it is all being completed on a volunteer or donated basis.
It is difficult, Adams points out, to spend thousands of local taxpayer dollars on an old missing persons case. Now he has it arranged to be done at no cost to the county.
I got hooked on this case shortly after coming to Blue Earth eight years ago.
Someone asked me if I knew about the grave of an unidentified woman buried in Riverside Cemetery.
I didn't. But, I soon learned as much about it as I could, and I found it to be fascinating.
Since I have been at the Faribault County Register, we have written four news stories and this is my third column about this old case from 1980.
Maybe the next time this story is on our front page it will be the final one.
A story about modern technology solving the mystery of the identity of Jane Doe.
Then Scott Adams, Deb Anderson and Jane Doe's family can all have a feeling of closure to this very old case.
It is a story I look forward to writing some day.