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Catching her killer: New possible lead in Jane Doe case

VERNON CO., Wis. - It's what some say is as close as it gets to a perfect murder.

In 1984, a woman's body was found brutally beaten on the side of a county road near Westby.

Investigators are working on a new tip that could be the one needed to catch her killer.

Saturday marks the 29th anniversary of her murder.

To this day, 29 years later, she still remains a Jane Doe.

The Vernon County Sheriff's Department said the homicide rate in the county is virtually nonexistent.

"I'm just surprised that someone out there doesn't know who she is," said Sheriff John Spears of the Vernon County Sheriff's Department.

On the night of May 4, 1984, three teenagers found a woman's body off Old Line Road near Westby.


She was brutally beaten and her hands were cut off.

"It was the talk of the town, or talk of the county for quite a while, and people had the same comments wondering who she is, where she's from," said Spears.

Since then, investigators have been trying to figure out who this Jane Doe is.

"I think it's one of those things that you never give up on," said Spears.
Last year, investigators took a second look at her case.

They sent her clothing, shoes and dentures to the state crime lab to be re-examined.

Retired Vernon County Deputy Sheriff Jim Hanson responded to the call the night Jane Doe was found.

He was hoping a second look would shed new light on the case.

"To lay this out to the public and the media, it is a bit of a sigh of relief to say, 'OK, we've got it to that point, now public help us out,'" Hanson said last year.

Investigators also set up a Facebook Page for Jane Doe.

About half a dozen tips came in, but last September, Spears received a tip from Portage County, Wis., that caught his eye.

Three people were being investigated for cashing fraudulent Social Security checks for a missing woman.

"Apparently it looks like her family had been cashing those checks for some years," said Spears. "That intrigued us because the dates were similar to our Jane Doe."

But that wasn't all. One of the three being investigated, Dolores Disher, resembled someone familiar.

"My heart skipped a beat thinking, 'Oh my gosh.' The one daughter, her picture to me seemed remarkably similar to our Jane Doe," said Spears.

Investigators still don't know if Disher is Jane Doe's daughter or someone related to her.

Spears said there's only one way to find out.

"Obviously DNA from the living relatives and comparing it to the DNA from Jane Doe should rule it out or confirm it," said Spears. "So that's what we're waiting on."

Investigators are still waiting for the DNA results to come back to see if the two women are related or if it's a tip they need to rule out.

In the meantime, they still need the public's help.

This is the most up-to-date information we have on Jane Doe:

Investigators said Jane Doe was in her 50s to mid 60s when she was found.

She had brownish grey colored hair with blue eyes.

She was about 5 feet and a half-inch tall and weighed around 150 pounds.

Anyone with tips or information should contact the Vernon County Sheriff's Department at 608-637-2123.

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