5:12 PM
Forensic Re-creation Of "Grace" Doe found in McDonald County in 1990

The diligent work of a detective in McDonald County has led to a facial reconstruction of a woman who was found murdered on county road over twenty years ago.

Lorie Howard has devoted hundred's of hours of her own time the last three years trying to find out who "Grace" Doe is so she can give her back her real name.

For about three weeks in late 1990 a ten year-old boy who lived on Oscar Talley Road told his parents that there was a dead person on a carport near an abandoned farmhouse.  They believed at the time it was just the little boys imagination.  It wasn't.

A couple collecting cans on December 2, 1990, found Grace's skull, that was wrapped in a towel, and other bones scattered in some weeds near the farmhouse and called authorities.  Grace's skeletal remains had been scattered by animals, according to Howard.

By the time Grace
When Grace's body was discovered it was badly decomposed.  Do you know who she is? 

Some people who live on the dirt road told investigators that they heard a woman scream and the rumbling of a loud vehicle, possibly a diesel truck, idling near the farmhouse about a week before Halloween that year. 

When investigators gathered evidence the picture that was developing was disturbing.

Grace had been hogtied with several types of ropes and cable with intricate knots: Nylon rope, lead rope, coaxial cable, telephone cable, military issued parachute cord and clothesline. Both hands were behind her back and tied to one leg with a shoelace.

Detective Lorie Howard holding the bindings found on Grace's body

Howard believes Grace was raped before someone strangled her.  The detective believes that because when an autopsy was performed on the woman in Columbia there were no bullet or stab wounds and no signs of blunt force trauma that would have caused her death.

A single sandy colored blonde hair was found on the collar of the jean jacket that Grace was wearing.  "I believe whoever killed Grace lived or lives in the area," said Howard.

Howard believes Grace's murderer/s were familiar with the area because of how remote the area is and the layout of the road.  "It's not a road you would want to get stuck on.  It's bumpy and windy.  They had to know the area and that the farmhouse was abandoned. I don't believe they stumbled upon the area." 

Grace was bound with six different types of rope and other materials.
Grace was bound with six different types of rope and other materials.
In 2009, after reviewing every piece of evidence from the original investigation, Detective Howard discovered a fingernail inside an evidence bag. "When I opened it, I realized this was part of the body and that it had never been tested," Howard said.

That fingernail could be the link that ties Grace to a family member.  A DNA profile was able to be constructed form the long lost evidence.

A forensic rendition of Grace was impossible for a long time because the woman's bones and skull had been missing for several years and were only recently re-discovered at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.  Howard had reached out to medical examiners in Columbia and an anthropologist at U of A to help locate them and they were eventually found.  "By the grace of God they found them."

Lywood's Forensic Re-creation Of "Grace" Doe

Howard says she calls her Jane Doe “Grace” because people have told her it will only be by the grace of God that she will ever solve the mystery.

After Grace's bones and skull were recovered Howard took them to Freeman Hospital in Neosho and sent the scans to forensic artist Victoria Lywood in Montreal, Canada.

Lywood sent daily updates for about two weeks to Howard.  "She would tell me I worked on the eyebrows today...or I worked on the lips.  The last update I had was on Thursday [April 7th]....on Friday I opened my email and the subject line said Meet Grace."

"I wanted to know her.  I was sure after I saw her I would know who she was.  I didn't.  Now I know I'm not going to stop until I find out who she is and we get this solved."

Profile of "Grace" Doe

Howard says Lywood included shoulder length hair because that was what investigators had remembered... she even included a jean jacket.  “It’s almost exactly how I pictured her,” Howard said of Grace. “The detail is amazing.”

Jean Jacket found with "Grace" Doe

Grace was probably in her mid-20's to early 30's with brown eyes, is believed to have brown eyes and auburn hair. Based on a hair sample taken from her remains, she was probably of  mixed race, likely Caucasian and Native American, according to Howard.

Anthropologists believe Grace was between 5’1” and 5’4” and probably weighed around 120 pounds.
According to her dental records, Grace had a lot of expensive dental work done.
It appears that Grace had a lot of expensive dental work done.
When Grace was found she was wearing a blue denim jacket, white T-shirt, “Lee” brand blue jeans and size 7 ½, white “Fitness” brand high-top tennis shoes.

Shoes found with "Grace" Doe
Howard has been chasing old and new leads in the case.  Yesterday she received a call from someone who had seen a picture of Grace on Facebook and believes she may know who she is.  She is also looking into the case of Robin Abrams, who went missing from Illinois on October 4, 1990. 

Robin Renea Abrams has been missing since Oct 4, 1990
Abrams was a former sheriff's deputy in Will County Illinois. She was last seen by her father when she waved to him when she passed him on a road near their home in Beecher.
Abrams had a romantic relationship with a married police officer, Anthony Marquez, before she vanished. Abrams's family stated she did not realize Marquez was married. He convinced her to join the sheriff's department; she was hired as a deputy in 1988.
In November 1989, shortly after she ended her relationship with Marquez, she got an order of protection against him, alleging that he had harassed her and slashed her car's tires. In December 1989, she was terminated from the sheriff's department, two weeks before her probationary period was scheduled to end.
Shortly after Abrams was fired, Marquez filed a criminal complaint against her, alleging harassment. The complaint was dismissed. Marquez was himself terminated from the police department in December 1990.
A few months after her termination, Abrams filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful dismissal, sexual harassment and violation of civil rights. The defendants included Marquez and seven others in the sheriff's department.
One of the first hearings in the suit was scheduled for October 22, 1990, eighteen days after she disappeared. It has not been established that the lawsuit or Abrams' problems with the sheriff's department and with Marquez had anything to do with her disappearance.
Her disappearance was initially investigated by the Will County Sheriff's Department, but the state police took over shortly after it began, citing a possible conflict of interest.
Even though Lywood's reconstruction of Grace doesn't appear to be a match for Abrams, Howard is trying to find someone who will compare X-rays of Abrams' thigh bone and spine to compare them with Grace's bones that were recently recovered.
Abrams is Illinois oldest active missing adult case on the National Center for Missing Adults website.
The Jasper County sheriff's office has provided her with information on three women who went missing during that time (not the Three Missing Women from Springfield.)  Ironically, one of the is named Grace.

Pencil Sketch Of "Grace" Doe

Howard received a phone call last week from Josh Darnell who now lives in Arizona and believed Grace could be his mother.  Josh's mom, Cheryl Ann Kenney, went missing from Nevada, Missouri when he was ten years-old.  After he and his sister submitted their mitochondrial DNA to the University of North Texas and it was compared to Grace’s that was made from the fingernail that Howard found in 2009, it was another let down....it didn't match.  Darnell says he will not give up searching for his mother.

Today, Howard received information about Janet Dolgae, who went missing from Cortland, Ohio on October 1, 1989. Authorities can't locate the missing person's report on Dolgae. 
Sheriff's Maj. Tom Stewart says he cannot find the report and that Janet Dolgae was never entered as a missing person. A reason for this could be that the sheriff's record room was flooded during the 1990s, possibly destroying the report.

Undated photo of Janet Dolgae Who Went Missing From Ohio In 1989

"She looks a lot like my girl," said Howard. UPDATE - Dolgae has been ruled out through DNA, according to Howard.

America's Most Wanted has expressed interest in the case and has a link about Grace on their website about her case. "I talked with a producer for them recently and they want to profile Grace on the show," said Howard.
“I will find out who she is and get her back home!”

Detective Lori Howard with Grace's recreation (courtesy Joplin Globe)

Anyone with any information about this case is encouraged to call Detective Lorie Howard at 417-223-7430. 


sandyn said...

RE: Grace Doe Case

I recommend this profile be placed on the Let's Bring Them Home website. I just did a search and didn't see it there. I do know people look there for their loved ones and investigators look there also. Registration is free and you never know when the right person will see the forensic reconstruction and details.


Misty said...

This is a comment for The Crime Scene: Meet McDonald County Missouri's "Grace" Doe article. Has any updates been found? The article mentions Robin Renea Abrams, missing since Oct. 1990. There is a Facebook page dedicated to finding her. I don't know if the Detective in the article wants to contact the family or not.

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Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

Cynthia Louise Day, maybe. She was last seen getting into a semi when she went missing. It says a semi was heard in oct sometime...

Unknown said...

Got a call today doing dna soon to see if she's my missing sister.

Unknown said...

This is about grace for found in 1990 in an abandoned house

Anonymous said...

Identified as Shawna Garber!