Pecos Jane Doe
On July 5th of 1966 a couple who identified themselves as “Mr. and Mrs. Russell Battoun” checked into the Roper Motel in Pecos, Texas. About three hours later, the man laid down in their room to take a nap, while the girl decided to go swimming in the motel’s pool. Sometime in the next hour, the woman was heard screaming and a motel maid and another motel patron rushed to the pool side where they discovered the woman submerged under water. A teenage girl pulled the woman out and attempted CPR. An ambulance was called and the woman’s male companion was alerted to the situation. The woman was taken away to a local hospital but was pronounced dead on the trip there. Meanwhile her male counterpart went to the front desk and asked for the couple’s registration card back, in order to use at the hospital as identification. He then climbed into a late model Sedan and drove away. He never went to the hospital and was never seen again. The identity of both he and the dead girl were a mystery.
The girl was between 17 and 20 years old, with olive skin, dark hair and dark eyes. She had a burn scar on her rib cage and a scar on her leg. Her teeth were perfect, so a dental record search was determined to be fruitless. Her fingerprints were not in the FBI database and her clothes were unremarkable. The authorities best bet was for a family of a missing child to come and claim her as their own. Several families tried to do just that but the girl remained unidentified.
The name “Russell Battoun” was later found to match that of an active U.S. Marine who was stationed in North Carolina before serving in Vietnam but no link could be established between him and the unknown couple. The Jane Doe was buried in an unmarked Pecos grave in a casket paid for by the funeral director.
Henry Ziegland resided in Honey Grove, Texas in the late 1800’s. For reasons that have been lost to history, Ziegland decided to end things with his girlfriend, which in turn riled up the woman’s brother. The man stormed over to Ziegland’s home and shot at him, striking Henry with a grazing shot to the face. The bullet embedded in a tree. The man then took his gun and turned it on himself as he thought his sister was avenged.
In 1913, a full twenty years later, Ziegland decided to take down the tree from his property. After struggling with an ax, he decided to just use dynamite to knock it over. When the explosion went off, the long embedded bullet popped out and flew into the skull of Ziegland, killing him. Better late than never?
A modified version of this case was used on the show “Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction”.
In the summer of 1952, 10-year-old Connie Smith was attending a summer recreation camp in Salisbury, Connecticut – far from her Wyoming home. Smith and some other campers ended up getting into a fight on July 16th and Connie received a bloody nose. Smith headed for the first aid room to get an ice pack but apparently decided to leave the camp altogether instead of going back by the other campers. She was later reported to have been seen asking for directions to a town about a half mile away. Other witnesses saw her hitchhiking down a nearby road. The camp counselors didn’t realize she was missing until several hours passed.
Smith’s grandfather happened to be the governor of Wyoming at the time she vanished and he was able to organize a large search effort but no trace of Smith was found. Six years later some hunters in Arizona found some skeletal remains of a young girl who became known as “Little Miss X”. That Jane Doe remained an unsolved mystery until 1962 when the Connecticut police were sent a letter that claimed “Little Miss X” was in fact Connie Smith. A dental record check proved inconclusive. Over fifty years after Smith vanished DNA became a tool for matching bloodlines, so her family donated samples to test against Little Miss X’s sample to try and put things to rest once and for all. Unfortunately, Little Miss X’s remains had been misplaced over time and no test was possible. Both Smith and Little Miss X’s cases remain unsolved.
Charley Ross was four years old in 1874 when he and his six-year-old brother Walter were playing in their front yard in the Philadelphia suburbs on a hot July day. A carriage pulled up to them and two men exited. They asked the young boys if they would be willing to take a ride with them to get some fireworks. The youngsters quickly agreed. The men took the boys to a store in Philly, where Walter was given 25 cents to purchase fireworks with. While he went inside the store alone, the men whisked away his brother.
The kidnappers wasted little time sending ransom notes to Charley’s dad, Christian. The letters were poorly written but the demands for twenty thousand dollars was made repeatedly. Christian’s large house had made the kidnappers believe that the Ross’ had money, but the truth was that a stock market crash in 1873 had sent the family into a deep debt. Despite warnings not to get the police involved, Christian felt he had little choice but to seek help. Soon the story of Charley’s kidnapping was all over the city and it eventually became a national story.
In December of that year a house in Long Island that was owned by Judge Charles Van Brunt was broken into. Van Brunt’s brother lived next door and caught wind of the illegal activity. He quickly grabbed several able bodies and had everyone snag their shotguns. The posse then stormed his Judge Van Brunt’s house. The thieves extinguished their lanterns, but that did not deter the militia from firing an abundance of shots into the darkness where the burglars resided. When light was restored one of the men lay dead and the other mortally wounded. The dying man admitted that the pair were Bill Mosher and Joe Douglas, two career criminals fresh from a stint in jail. He then said they were responsible for kidnapping Charley Ross. He was unsure if Ross was still alive or not and suspected that he may be returned now that his kidnappers were not going to be able to receive any ransom. He died before he could reveal where Ross might be at or any other useful details. The bodies of the men were brought to Charlie’s brother Walter, who confirmed that they were the same men that had picked he and Charlie up that past summer.
William Westervelt, a former police officer who was connected to the kidnappers in prior crimes was arrested and tried for kidnapping in 1875. He told Ross’ family that Charlie was still alive when Mosher and Douglas were killed, but he wasn’t sure anymore. Very little evidence tied Westervelt to the Ross kidnapping, so he was eventually found innocent. He was later tried as an accessory to a kidnapping conspiracy. He was found guilty on that charge and spent six years in prison. Westervelt maintained his innocence throughout the trials and prison time.
The Ross family ended up writing a book on their son’s case and spent huge sums of money chasing leads for the next fifty years. Thousands of kids, teens and as time passed, men were interviewed to see if they were in fact Charlie Ross. Ross was never located. A heavily used missing persons database on the internet is named after him.
Thanks for reading! I’ll be back with more cases soon.