The year 1978 is a long time ago for a forgotten nameless teen. Surely, no one remembers her. She was only about 15 years old. She had a broken tooth, one that already had a root canal. She also had a right ear that was slightly deformed and noticeably smaller than her left. But she probably usually kept her long hair covering it. She had worn perky blue denim coveralls and a white mid way blouse. At the end of her life she had worn her hair in a ponytail, tied with nothing more than a rubber band.
She was murdered, you see, dressed as I described her above. It had been a couple of days before Valentine’s Day 1978. She was then dumped in a ditch on Proctor Valley Road, a bit east of Bonita, back then an unincorporated part of San Diego just east of Chula Vista.
Bonita is a nice place. I used to live on Otay Lakes Road back in the 1980s. Dirt bikers hit the open canyons. Rustic mountains and hiking are nearby and you are also only 30 minutes from the beaches (Imperial and Coronado).
As I was saying– Jane Doe with the deformed ear must have hitched from afar. She is unidentified to this day, and with her distinctive ear you’d think someone would have remembered her . . .if they wanted to. Someone had cared enough at one point to get her root canal– pretty expensive treatment.
Not only was Jane distinctive, she was murdered in a distinctive way– possibly tortured but certainly poisoned. That’s not that common.
The only other set of similar murders I can recall were also back in the 1970s and located in Sonoma County in northern California. They are often mixed up with the Coed Murders, but they stand out as uniquely different. The victims were much younger than the coeds and killed in different ways. The coeds were apparently killed by a certain type of bondage in which while they struggled to free themselves they slowly choked themselves, presumably while their killer watched.
But the other, much younger victims were poisoned, at least more than one of them. It may not have been the sole means by which they were killed, but poison was certainly part of the horrid gambols perpetrated upon them. Their killer(s) was strong and threw them down an embankment when finished with his thrill.
The Sonoma Murders can be accessed on this blog.
Let’s get back to Jane Doe in Otay/San Diego.
She clearly was found nowhere near to Sonoma County, but she may prove a link to this other Sonoma killer. It’s not too farfetched to consider this creep traveled the roads of California and fed off the fat of the land, as it was called. That was a common thing in the 1970s, especially if one had a van. And, curiously, there was an incident with a van in the Sonoma cases– an attempted kidnapping of a teen who may have been destined to be the next victim.
In this van incident it seemed the perp had an accomplice. This might explain the unusual strength the killer of the teen girls was thought to possess– he threw one body over some intervening bushes on the embankment of a rural road. Instead of fiendish strength, it may have been two men who tossed the bodies, discarding them as if . . . well, no need to go into it.
If this creep traveled south in his van (maybe with an accomplice), Proctor Valley Road is the type of road where you’d expect him to dump a body. It doesn’t mean a van was involved, but it just seems to fit.
Proctor Valley Jane was a typical 1970s hitchhiking girl probably. A runaway from a fractured or single parent home, and the parents didn’t care. Maybe an orphan, but I would imagine by now someone would have remembered a girl with such a distinctive ear from an orphanage.
There is still uncertainty as to who the Sonoma Coed Killer was– if it was Manalli he was certainly dead by 1978. But if there was another killer operating in Sonoma County, the clues in the Proctor Valley Jane case may help lead to a solid suspect. It takes checking the suspect list to find who was in both counties at the given times.
There is also another murder down in San Diego Co. that may shed light on this connection. We will discuss it in the next blog.
Proctor Valley Jane is not an investigation of mine. I merely call attention to a potential link. It requires more details to see how similar the MO was. The discarding of a body on a rural road unfortunately is all too common, but death by poisoning a teen girl is not so common.
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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.