While it can be haunting to return to past transgressions, it can also be healing to investigate unsolved crimes and bring closure to those involved. This week the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office announced in a press release that it had solved a 48-year-old murder of a 16-year-old girl.
The case began in August 1971, when a father and son traveling along Redwood Highway in Josephine County, Oregon, stopped for the night. When day broke and they went into the woods, they found skeletal remains.
“At the time, Sheriff’s investigators did all they could to identify who the remains belonged to, the cause and manner of death and how the remains came to be in Josephine County,” the media release from March 14 read.
“When all the investigative leads were exhausted, the case was simply deemed ‘inactive’ and the remains were placed in storage at the Sheriff’s Office warehouse and listed simply as ‘Jane Doe — Josephine County 71-940.'”
Left alone for years, in 2004 interest was renewed in this Jane Doe and an artist was able to render a sculptured likeness of the girl’s face.
“Forensic Artist and Clackamas County Sheriff’s Deputy Joyce Nagy completed a clay facial reconstruction of our Jane Doe,” the media release read. “Deputy Nagy nick-named her work ‘Jane Annie Doe’ as she felt the likeness she created displayed features inspiring the name ‘Annie.’”
“Investigators distributed the image of Jane ‘Annie’ Doe nationwide resulting in numerous leads that kept the case active for several more years.”
In 2016, her teeth, bones and hair were submitted for forensic analysis. Experts were able to narrow the search, believing her to be from the northeast US. More leads came in, but nothing concrete developed.
In late 2018, the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s office, who was now holding the mystery girl’s remains, had her DNA submitted through the DNA Doe Project, a program that seeks to identify unnamed victims as a volunteer service.
As a result, in February 2019, they located a woman they determined was a potential relative living in Washington and asked her for a sample to confirm.
She was a match, and turned out to be the full sister of the deceased, who has been identified as 16-year-old Anne Marie Lehman from Aberdeen, Washington, whose nickname was “Annie.”
Now, authorities believe the girl went missing in the spring or winter of 1971 “under troubling circumstances.”
“Some say Annie Lehman was a runaway and others feel she was abducted and traded to a criminal human trafficking organization,” the release read. “These claims, how she ended up in Josephine County and the cause and manner of her death remain under investigation.”
While the girl has been identified, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office is asking for help from anyone who may know about her disappearance and death. They have asked people with any information to Detective Ken Selig at the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office 541-474-5123 case #71-940.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.