Detectives seek help with red coffin cold case

Sheriff's Cold Case Unit Sgt. Richard Longshore discussed details of a 1968 unsolved murder Thursday.

ANTELOPE VALLEY – It’s been 43 years since the decomposed body of a woman was found in a red homemade coffin hidden in the desert.  Still, detectives are no closer to figuring out who the woman was or how she got there.

The decomposed body of Jane Doe #40 was found in a well-constructed plywood coffin.

They’re asking for your help in solving the murder of Jane Doe #40.

“What we’re doing is asking the public if they have any recollection at all of anyone matching this description,” said Sheriff’s Cold Case Unit Sgt. Richard Longshore, who was in town Thursday to share details of the case.

On Dec. 8, 1968, a group of hunters came across a coffin about 15 feet from the roadway, on 188th Street East, just south of Fort Tejon Road.

“It was behind a tree or bush and could not be seen from the roadway,” Longshore said. “It was covered with dead limbs of trees and rocks and some dirt.”

The coffin was found about 15 feet off a dirt road used primarily by hunters.

Longshore said the hunters contacted the Lancaster Station. Deputies pried open the coffin and found the decomposed body of a white female, between 35-50 years old, with short auburn hair that was turning gray. Her hair was in bobby pins as if she was ready to go to sleep, and she was wearing a two-piece satin pink pajama set, with a red and white checkered robe.

The woman had been shot.

“The cause of death was determined to be a gunshot wound through and through, so there is no ballistics,” Longshore said. “That means it went in one portion of the body and exited the other.”

Longshore said the women’s appearance coupled with how the coffin was constructed led detectives to believe it was a domestic murder.

The earth beneath the coffin was pretty compact. It was not an easy hole to dig, said Longshore.

The well-constructed plywood coffin had been glued shut, then nailed shut, and then painted a reddish-brown color. Inside the coffin, the woman was placed within two multicolored quilts, and her head was laid on a brocade pillow.

“Someone used a lot of care in putting her in that coffin,” Longshore said. “One could speculate that the way that the coffin was constructed that he was concerned about animal intervention.”

The medical examiner estimates the woman had been dead between three months to a year before she was discovered.

She had several gold fillings in her teeth, had undergone a hysterectomy, and had given birth at least once during her lifetime, according to the medical examiner.

Longshore said the body was too decomposed for a fingerprint comparison.

“There are ways of hydrating fingerprints, they tried that,” Longshore said. “However, because of the nature of the decomposition, there was an insufficient ridge count available from the fingerprints to make a determination.”

Longshore said detectives also looked to the woman’s clothing for clues. Her robe had a label on it that said “Viyella woven in Great Britain” and “Designed by Sadie Shaw.”

“I’ve done a lot of research and gone through textile associations and vintage clothing warehouses, and it’s fairly common place apparently in the UK,” Longshore said. “We don’t know that it was ever exported to the United States for sale.”

All but one person that found Jane Doe #40 is now deceased.

Longshore said there were no reports of missing people during the time of the woman’s discovery. He said investigators sent letters to Las Vegas, Reno and several other places in hopes of finding missing females who matched the woman’s description, but to no avail.

Today, only one of the hunters that discovered Jane Doe #40 is still alive.

The youngest member was 19-years-old at the time, and is now 62.

“So you can see with the passage of time, not only do the memories fade, but people fade away as well,” Longshore said.

He said the person responsible for the murder is more than likely deceased.

“But she still has family members or still has neighbors that remember her,” Longshore said. “We owe it to them to give them an answer.”

Longshore said the department never closes cold cases, and he will continue investigating the death of Jane Doe #40 in hopes of a resolution. He is hoping the public can help.

If you or anyone you know has information regarding this case, contact Sgt. Richard Longshore at 323-890-5500. If you would like to provide information anonymously, call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

  13 comments for “Detectives seek help with red coffin cold case

  1. goldielocks
    May 26, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    ok “REALLY” enjoy that throw up and go screw yourself!!!!!! why did it take them 43 years to hold one My brothers name was TIMOTHY NAVARRO please do google it and yes same goldielocks. I am just saying the detectives dont do that great of a job sorry if i affened any of you thats my opinion. You guys must not have a life cause all you people do is sit on your computer and comment on peoples posting all your negitive words, you all must be so unhappy with your lives and only thing that makes you feel better about yourselves is to talk down upon other people which is fine we are all entitled to are own opinions so carry on and go ahead and leave another hateful comment i enjoy reading them.

    • really
      May 26, 2012 at 10:30 pm

      I am sorry you lost a loved one but read your own post! All your doing is bashing the police. I dont want to sound harsh but here are the cold facts, if you have known two people who have been murdered you may need to do some soul searching. It would seem as though you may be associated with nefarious people. The article clearly lays out why they are at a dead end. Your wrongly placing blame on officers because you have to do something to rationalize all the anger and sorrow you feel from losing loved ones to violence. You need to accept that maybe police have done all they can. If you cant accept that become a deputy, work homicide and solve the case. If you did they would probably makea movie about you….

      • legalize
        May 27, 2012 at 1:08 pm

        JHC REALLY really? People who are murdered must be “nefarious people”??!!? Hate to see what you have to say to abused children or rape victims! What a clown!

        • really
          May 27, 2012 at 8:46 pm

          No, people who are murdered arent nefarious people, however the odds of having two close aquintances murdered in very slim… and when one of the people was a gangster who shot at a security guard then got himself shot dead, one could surmise that this person associates with nefarious people…

          • goldielocks
            May 29, 2012 at 6:13 am

            Well if you know the hole story about that incident that happen with my “gangster friend” then good for you but hearing from whittness who were there on site stating that the gaurd shot first and nothing happen after that doesnt seem right to me… And for you to make accusations about having to close friends murdered in the same way you dont know like i said google my brother and you will see he was in his home and it was not gang related… REALLY one day i hope you find yourself in this same situation so i can just belittle you and talk bad about your family. You are scum no matter what happen to these people no matter their life no one deserves to be shot to death and their case left open with no clouser to the familys.

          • really
            May 29, 2012 at 12:22 pm

            You are right about your brother, you deserve closure and a garauntee that detectives have exhuasted all leads. Until you get that I totally understand your frustration. I made a harsh assesment based on your assessment of the shooting at snookys. There was video of that shooting and your “friend” was clearly the instagater. He was also a Lancas gang member. I have no sympathy for that guy, however until your brothers case is solved he deserves the very best law enforcement can provide….

          • goldielocks
            June 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm

            Only thing that gets me is yes we know there was video but why was it never turn over to police? Or why they were in there after the shooting watching the video and laughing or why after this gaurd shot him was he told to leave for a while till things calmed down. How do you know about the VIDEO do you work for them???? im just wondering how you know so much about my friend??? Did you know he had a daughter that he was taken from, now she has no father… Why couldnt the gaurd shot him to harm him not kill him, did you know this is the THRID time a gaurd at this bar has killed someone… I just know that this place is a shady place. I understand he was not a perfect person and maybe didnt do the best with his life but once but he was a son a brother a uncle a father and a friend

          • leon spinks
            June 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm

            Goldierocks…better yet, how do YOU know a video was or wasn’t turned over to police? Also, “shoot to harm” someone?????? LOL…you’ve been watching too much TV. If this dude was a gang member, firing guns, not in self defense, then he got what was coming. He should’ve thought about his kids before he put his gangsta lifestyle ahead of taking care of them. Blame everyone but the bad guy. Yes snookies is shady…so with that in mind, why do thugs (including your pal) keep going there with guns expecting a good outcome???

          • really
            June 1, 2012 at 4:44 pm

            Goldie… you cant be serious… your friend fired a weapon at somebody and you expect someone to shoot to harm… nobody took him from his daughter he made poor choices that led to his death…. every child deserves to have a father its a shame that he gave up the privelige of raising a daughter to go out to the local third rate wannabe strip club and act like an a-hole…. Dont paint him to be something he wasnt… the guard was probably told to lay low because your friend was a gang member and the place feared his dirtbag buddies would come back…. so what if the guard has had to defend himself multiple times… Snookys is a magnet for dirtbags…. I do believe that in every instance the guard was fired upon first…. anything else I can educate you about?

          • rachelle
            May 30, 2012 at 10:07 am

            i definately agree no one has the right to say when somebody is going to die however,things do catch up to people when they are doing wrong

  2. someone who knows
    May 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Goldielocks, what was your brother’s name? I want to google search the incident. Are you the same goldielocks who claimed an “innocent friend” of yours was shot by snooky’s security years ago, and the cops did nothing,only to have several readers post links to the true story? The true story being the dumba$$ crashed his car and fired shots at the people in the other car before getting blasted by snooky’s security. Is this the same goldielocks?? Post the link to your brother’s story.

  3. goldielocks
    May 25, 2012 at 10:00 am

    I like how they say they never close cold cases….. doesnt mean they still investagate them. My brother was killed 12 years ago shot in his home and only investigating done was by us the family. These homicide detectives never follow through. Its sad when a family never has closure i hope they can someway slove this case for this womens family they have been waiting a very long time for some answers. What about dental records since they said she did have gold fillings wouldnt there be records i know they had dentist back then as well come on people…

    • really
      May 25, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Wow you are so brilliant, you should become a detective..If the cops are as lazy as you say why would they hold a press conference about a long forgotten tragedy. Its a wonder your able to walk upright and type on a computer,,, now if only you could get a job and a clue! Its trolls like you that make me throw up in my mouth a lil bit everytime I read this site.

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