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 Who Left the Dead Party Girl in the Snow?

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Moloko
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Age : 77
Location : Whitechapel

PostSubject: Who Left the Dead Party Girl in the Snow?   Fri May 14, 2010 2:11 am

It was cold when the Pacific Trailways bus pulled out of the Portland, Oregon terminal at 8 o'clock on Sunday morn­ing, January 17, 1982. The driver headed the bus east on Interstate 84 out of Portland, turned off at Gresham and got onto U.S. 26, still headed east, passed through the town of Sandy and the small communities of Brightwood, Wemme, Welches and Rhododendron, all of which lay in the foothills of the snow-covered Mount Hood, en route to Bend, Redmond and all points east. In hadn't snowed in days, although there was a heavy covering on the ground kept on by the freezing temperatures, making for reasonably good driving conditions and good visibility for this time of the year. But it did get colder as the bus and its passengers made their way up the mountain pass as the fierce wind struck the vehicle sharply at every turn in the road.

Inside the bus, it was warm and cozy, the driver having adjusted the heat accor­dingly for the temperatures outside, and the passengers made the most of their Sunday morning journey. Some slept, likely those whose journey had origin­ated from earlier points than Portland, and others talked with each other, read books and magazines, and some simply took in the wintry sights outside their tinted windows. One such passenger of the latter category was seated by a win- down on the right-hand side of the bus, gazing at the passing snows capes with­out a care in the world, when he sud­denly saw what appeared to be the body of a nude female lying face down in the snow several feet off the road! Startled by the eye-opening sight, the man turned to the passenger beside him.

"Did you see that?" he asked his fel­low passenger as he pointed excitedly out the window.

"See what?" retorted the other passenger.

"The naked body lying in the snow," he answered. "I believe it was a woman." The other passenger, as well as those within earshot of the excited man's statements, all looked outside their windows. But it was too late to see anything. As the man who made the macabre discovery made his way up the aisle to inform the driver, most passen­gers wondered if he'd really seen what he thought he saw. The driver, although interested but somewhat perturbed at the prospect of falling behind his rigid schedule, agreed to stop at nearby Rhododendron, where the man could at least notify the proper authorities of his discovery.

It was just minutes before 9:00 a.m. when the disquieted passenger reached the nearest office of the Oregon State Police (OSP) in Portland and told the dispatcher the details of his discovery.

The dispatcher took down the man's name, address and telephone number so that he could be reached later if neces­sary, and assured him that a trooper in the area would be immediately dis­patched to the site near Rhododendron.

It didn't take long for the trooper to find the location and the body. By 9:20 a.m., he had pulled his patrol car onto the snow-covered shoulder of the road, as far out of the line of traffic as possible, its blue and red dome lights flashing as he stared down in disbelief at the dead girl. Knowing there was nothing he could do for the girl; the trooper retraced his steps back to his patrol car and radioed his grim findings to his dis­patcher. He was told to stay at the site, that additional help would soon be on the way.

By the time the dispatcher had notified the district commander of the detective division, the homicide detail that would handle the case, the medical examiner's office, the district attorney's office, the state crime lab unit and the state police photo unit, considerable time had elapsed. But additional troopers ar­rived at the crime site and began erecting barriers, while still more troopers motioned the passing, and very curious, motorists on by. All of the cops involved agreed that it was a hell of a way to begin a normally quiet Sunday morning, but they braved the cold, cutting wind and performed their duties just the same.

Les Frank, supervisor of the case for OSP, assigned Detective Alan Colson to head the investigation. After meeting at headquarters, Frank and Colson got in­side their squad cars and drove to the location, some 40 miles east of Portland. When they arrived they learned, much to their satisfaction, that barriers were already in place and that much of the preliminary work had already been done. The troopers who arrived first had done a good job.



Frank and Colson conferred briefly with the troopers who had arrived first and learned that there had been no foot­prints leading up to the body. It had not snowed in days, eliminating the possibil­ity that footprints, either the victim's or the perpetrators had been covered by snowfall. And the snow that was on the ground was heavy and packed; reducing the likelihood that snow had drifted or had been blown by the wind to cover any tracks. So how did she get to that loca­tion? The probers knew that she would have had to either fly into the area or had been tossed from a moving vehicle. Col­son and Frank opted for the latter hypoth­esis.

When Detective Colson examined the woman's body, he discovered that it was nearly frozen. She had obviously been there for a considerable time although it would likely be difficult to pin down just how long. After briefly examining the body, Colson retreated to the area just behind the barriers to await the police photographers and the crime lab tech­nicians.

"There was no evidence she walked in there...there were no footprints," Col­son told the photographers and crime lab technicians when they arrived. He added that the body was face down, as it was when the support personnel arrived to process the scene for clues, and had not been covered by snow.

The woman's body was photographed from many different angles. Close-ups were taken, as were medium and long shots. The photographer captured the victim's body on film to include the scope and dimensions of the entire crime scene, so that the relative position of the victim's body could be viewed in proper perspective with the immediate sur­rounding area.

Next, a man from the Clackamas County Medical Examiner's Office ex­amined the nude female body, but could find no external signs indicating how the woman died. There were no gunshot or stab wounds found anywhere on the body, nor were there any signs of strangulation, cuts, bruises or other types of physical abuse.

The very nature of the victim's body did indicate foul play. After all, she was found naked and frozen, lying face down in the snow with no footprints leading in or out of the area. But how was she killed? It was very unclear.

The medical examiner could not say at this point how the woman died. All he could tell the detectives was that they would have to wait for the results of an autopsy, to be completed by Oregon State Medical Examiner Dr. William Brady. If anyone could pinpoint the cause of the woman's death, he could, said the M.E. Brady is a recognized ex­pert in the field of forensic pathology with much experience in these matters and has, in some circles, been referred to as the "Quincy" of Oregon.

When the state police crime lab tech­nicians began their tedious, exacting work they first examined the victim's body for any signs of obvious evidence. They found several items in her hair but refrained from combing the hair until the body could be moved to a less dynamic, less fragile environment as they didn't want to lose any potential evidence to the wind or other elements.

They carefully placed the victim's body inside an opaque body bag and loaded it onto a vehicle that would transport the body to the Multnomah County morgue in Portland, where the crime lab technicians would subject it to a more thorough examination, including fingerprinting. It would also be more convenient to process the body at the morgue, where Dr. Brady could conduct a definitive autopsy when the crime lab technicians and fingerprint technicians had finished with it.

Next, the crime lab technicians meas­ured the depth of the imprint the victim's body had made in the snow, and dis­covered that it had been lying about six inches deep in the snow. The body had been lying perpendicular to U.S. 26, some 14 feet north of the highway on about 18 inches of accumulated snow. There was no blood at the crime site, and there were no clothes found in the vicin­ity of the body.

When they had finished with all the necessary methods of crime scene in­vestigation at their disposal, the de­tectives and crime lab personnel packed up their gear and headed back to Port­land, where the chief investigator, De­tective Colson, would await the outcome of further tests and the autopsy.



In the meantime, Colson wrote and filed a report on the matter, the contents of which was similar to what follows:

Crime Classification: Homicide

Victim: Jane Doe

The complainant, Henry Smith, dis­covered the victim lying face down in about six inches of old snow at approx­imately 8:50 a.m. as he traveled east on a Pacific Trailways bus. When he looked out of the window, at a location approx­imately two miles west of Rho­dodendron, he saw nude body of the female victim. Complainant notified OSP from a public telephone booth at Rhododendron. Trooper was dispatched to the scene, and responding trooper found victim D.O.A. on arrival. Responding trooper radioed dispatcher, requesting detectives on the scene. Homicide Detective Alan Colson and Su­pervisor Les Frank responded to the call, and arrived at scene prior to M.E. and crime lab technicians.

Victim has not been identified but is described as a white female, believed to be in her early twenties. Unable to de­termine the color of the victim's eyes due to exposure and the passage of time. Hair is dark brown, hung below her shoulders, the last three to four inches of which had been dyed blonde-red. Pend­ing exact autopsy measurements, height appears to be around 5 foot 3, weight approximately 120 pounds.

Victim was pronounced dead at the scene by Clackamas County Medical Ex­aminer, no apparent or obvious cause. No wounds or, signs of abuse were present on the victim's body. No clothing was present at the crime site. There was no purse or identification. No personal items except jewelry.

Victim's body was sent to Multnomah County morgue in Portland for autopsy.

Signed: Alan Colson,Detective, OSP.

Colson filed his report pending the definitive autopsy and crime lab tests and analyses, and made copies available to his superiors and the district attorney's office.

Because of the thin evidence and the scarcity of significant clues, Detective Colson organized a group of in­vestigators, troopers and crime lab tech­nicians to go over the area of the crime site again, this time expanding their search area beyond the original crime scene dimensions. They began a "sector search" of the area, in which individual searchers were assigned lanes of a de­signated width by the investigator in charge of the case, Detective Colson. Once they had completed a thorough search of their assigned lanes, the prob­ers switched places with each other and went over the designated areas again, in an effort to prevent the loss of any evi­dence which might have been missed the first time around. Unfortunately, howev­er, the sleuths turned up nothing in spite of their exhaustive efforts.

The scarcity of clues, coupled with the fact that there were no traces of spilled blood on the snow where the body was found and no scratches or bruises on the body that would have been caused on impact if the victim had been alive when she landed at the location where her body had been found, prompted Detective Colson to theorize that she may have been dead before her body hit the snow and had probably been killed at a differ­ent location.

Of course, Colson and his in­vestigators could only speculate as to what happened at this point in the case, especially since he had so little to work with. As a result of the lack of evidence and no apparent witnesses, Colson could only theorize that the woman's body had been tossed into the snow from a moving vehicle. Because of the size of the victim and the distance of her body to the high­way, Colson further reasoned that it like­ly took two persons to throw her the 14 feet from the highway to the point where she was found. If that were indeed true, and if it were also true that the vehicle was moving when she was tossed out, Colson would be looking for at least three suspects in the case: two who tos­sed the body out, and one who was driv­ing the vehicle.

Meanwhile, at the Multnomah County morgue in Portland, OSP crime lab tech­nicians prepared to examine the victim's body for any clues as to her identity, her cause of death and/or any evidence which might have been left on her body by her killer or killers. The crime lab sleuths carried their equipment into the morgue facility, and immediately pro­ceeded towards the cold-looking, austere room where the unidentified dead woman's body lay on a stainless steel slab.

One of the technicians carefully re­moved a black and silver friendship ring from the victim's right ring finger; measurements determined it was a size six. The same technician also removed a pair of inexpensive copper and silver- colored earrings from the victim's pierced ears. The earrings and the friend­ship ring were placed in separate con­tainers and labeled accordingly, to be held for possible later use in identifying the victim.

Just below the victim's left ear there were three additional pieces of jewelry entangled in or clustered in the same area of her hair. The technician carefully re­moved a silver heart-shaped locket, a silver scroll "L" with a tiny diamond on the bottom and a 1-inch gold crucifix from the victim's hair. Although each of the pieces was designed to hang from a chain, none of the pieces were on chains, which only served to add to the already baffling mystery. Had the chains been ripped from around her neck during a violent struggle, leaving only the jewelry pieces entangled in her shoulder-length brown hair? It was possible, even likely under the circumstances in which her nude body had been found. It was even likely that the perpetrator(s) of the crime had attempted to remove all items from her body in an attempt to hinder the in­vestigators in identifying her body. The fact that the letter "L" was found on her body made that line of reasoning even more plausible and prompted the in­vestigators to wonder if her name began with the letter "L''.

The crime lab technician brushed the victim's hair in search of additional evi­dence that might have otherwise gone unnoticed, but no one, including the de­tectives, would comment about any additional evidence found.

The crime lab technician continued his examination of the woman, and pro­ceeded to remove hair samples for later examination. Since an examination of hair is of a comparative nature, samples would be obtained from both the victim and the suspect, if and when a suspect was apprehended.

Since all they had to work with at this point was the victim's body, hair sam­ples were taken from the head, including such areas as the crown, temple, eye­brow, and so forth. Samples were also taken from the pubic area. All-in-all, approximately 40 hairs were taken from each area of the deceased's body, and the samples were packaged separately according to area. None were allowed to be folded or crushed.

Since the woman's death was being treated as a homicide, the investigators had to consider the possibility that the victim struggled with her killer or killers before she succumbed to their efforts. As a result of this line of reasoning, the victim's fingernails were scraped in an attempt to determine whether or not traces of flesh or blood was present. If there were some traces present, it would indicate that she struggled with her assailant(s). The presence of traces of flesh would also allow sleuths to type the perpetrator's blood. However, authorit­ies would not comment what trace evi­dence, if any, was found out of fear of jeopardizing their case if and when they had a suspect to zero in on.

The fact that rigor mortis had already come and gone indicated to the in­vestigators that the victim had been dead for several days when her body was found. The fact that rigor mortis had already left the victim's body also made the macabre task of fingerprinting the corpse a bit easier for the fingerprint technician, since he wouldn't have to spend as much time limbering up the corpse as he normally would had the corpse been at an advanced stage of rigor mortis. The woman's corpse was nonetheless stiff in some of the joints because her body had been nearly frozen when it was found. The technician still had to do some limbering up before he could begin.

The technician started at the woman's shoulder and worked down to the elbow, the wrist, and the hand, bending and cracking the stiff arms and hands at all of the joints. After limbering up the joints, the technician prepared a four-by-ten­ inch piece of clear glass with black printer's ink, and smoothed it out into a thin layer with a specially designed ink roller. He grabbed a handful of standard fingerprint card forms and his inked glass, and began.



The technician inked the fingers of the woman's right hand first. With complete control over the corpse's fingers, he be­gan making the prints one-by-one, start­ing with the little finger and working towards the thumb, rolling each finger firmly across the standard fingerprint card from right to left. He repeated the same procedure for the victim's left hand and, being fast and efficient, the tech­nician had a full set of the victim's fing­erprints within minutes.

The prints were immediately sent to the appropriate departments, where in­vestigators swiftly began their tedious work of attempting to identify the vic­tim, making comparisons with all miss­ing females whose fingerprints were on file and whose description even closely resembled their victim's. Regardless of the evidence they already had, which was thin at best, the detectives knew that before the case could develop very far, they first had to identify the victim in order to have a solid starting point in their mysterious homicide puzzle.

In the meantime, State Medical Ex­aminer Dr. William Brady performed a definitive autopsy on the female victim. Unfortunately, when he had finished, Brady was just as stumped as the sleuths as to what caused the young woman's death. Brady did say, though, that she had a distinguishing scar on her lower abdomen made three to four years prior to her death from what he believed to be a Caesarean delivery. Brady said there were no other surgical scars and no ap­parent injuries to show cause of death.

Brady included in his report that the victim had badly bitten fingernails. He said that her teeth were in good condi­tion, with signs of only moderate repair. Brady said tests revealed the victim had a .18 blood alcohol level (0.8 is consid­ered legally intoxicated) at the time of her death, and he stated that she had engaged in sexual intercourse prior to her death.

"But we don't know whether the vic­tim was raped or not," said Detective Colson, referring to the autopsy report, which revealed no evidence that the woman had been sexually assaulted. He said that in spite of the report, rape could not be completely ruled out.

"We're awaiting the toxicology re­port from the state crime lab which could answer some of our questions," said Colson. He added that the results of the tests could tell the investigators whether the victim had any narcotics in her blood in addition to the alcohol, or whether or not she was suffering from a disease. He said the toxicology report might also help pinpoint the time of death.

"Right now it's tough (to determine the time of death) because the body was frozen when it was found," said Colson. As far as identifying the body Colson just shrugged and said he hoped the finger­prints would lead to her identity, or that someone would come forward and report her missing. "She belonged to someone, somewhere," he said.

The next day, January 26th, more than a week after the victim's body had been found in the snow off Highway 26 near Mount Hood, Supervisor Les Frank an­nounced that his office had identified the nude body as 21-year-old Linda Marie Scaletta from Sacramento, California.

Frank explained Scaletta's body had been identified through her fingerprints, but would not comment why her finger­prints were on file.

Frank did say, however, that toxicolo­gy tests revealed traces of tranquilizers in Scaletta's blood, in addition to the .18 blood alcohol level. Frank said the exact cause of death could not be determined based on the test results so far obtained, but he added that additional tests were being conducted in an attempt to de­termine how the young woman died.

Detective Colson and his investigators wasted no time in contacting the victim's relatives in California. They wanted to know as much background information about Linda Marie Scaletta as possible, including why she was in Oregon, who she knew and where she lived in Oregon, her life-style and so forth. Members of Linda's immediate family were also. asked to come to Oregon to make a visual identification of the body.

Family members viewed the body and confirmed for the detectives that the re­mains were indeed Linda Marie Scaletta.



During the course of their probing, investigators learned that Linda had last been heard from on January 4, 1982 when she telephoned a relative to say that she "was happy and well," and was staying with friends in Portland. The next day, January 5th, she disappeared and was not heard from again. Her body was found 12 days later.

As probers continued their inquiries into the life of Linda Scaletta, they learned that she was emotional when she was a little girl and had a "torturous" time growing up. But as she grew into adulthood, Linda's disposition trans­formed into a generous and sweet girl. She was described by a close relative as somewhat shy and modest as a teenager, so much so that she would not even un­dress in front of her older sisters.

"She was a little bit of a drifter, or I guess some people would think so," said a close relative in describing her adult life. The relative went on to say that Linda was a party lover but certainly "was no floozy...Until recently she never had any goals or ambitions." The relative added that Linda's attitude changed over the 1981 Christmas holi­days when she returned to Sacramento to. be with her family. "She seemed hap­py" at that time, said the relative. "She seemed to have a little direction."

When the detectives, crime lab tech­nicians and the medical examiner had finished with Linda's body and it was apparent to them that nothing further in the form of evidence could be obtained from the corpse, it was released to her family. Funeral services were held, and Linda's body was cremated, after which a close relative came to Portland from California to pick up the ashes. The rela­tive stopped at the OSP offices in Port­land to talk with the investigators, only to be disappointed that there were no new leads in the case.

"After I talked to the officer handling the case, I felt like as soon as I'd picked up her ashes and left town, 'Jane Doe' was going to be history," said the rela­tive. "I just want to know what hap­pened to (Linda) between January 5th, when she left the place she was staying at, and the day her body was found."

"We'd like to get some answers," said Det. Les Frank. OSP supervisor. "She knew a lot of people...had a lot of new friends. She was 21, just divorced after five years of marriage and was try­ing to see how the other half lived," he said. "She had no real, deep-seated roots in this area. She seems to have spent her time making new friends or partying."

In the meantime, just when it seemed to the sleuths that the case of Linda Scaletta was indeed hopeless, the Port­land Police Bureau received several calls from Southeast Portland residents who complained about an abandoned car on their street. Thinking that someone had just junked an old car, officers dis­patched to the scene checked it out, a routine they go through several times each day.

When the officers arrived at Southeast 13th Avenue and Tacoma Street, they soon discovered the car in question. It had California plates, and the cops routinely radioed the car's license plate number to their dispatcher, who in turn checked the car's identification with the motor vehicles division. Within mi­nutes, and much to their surprise, the cops learned that the car belonged to Linda Scaletta, a homicide victim whose case was being handled by the Oregon State Police. OSP was promptly notified of the discovery, and revealed publicly for the first time that they had been seek­ing the car for some time. They would not reveal, however, the make and year of the vehicle.

The officers who had discovered the missing automobile were instructed to remain at the Southeast Portland location until detectives and crime lab tech­nicians arrived to process it for clues. When the OSP personnel arrived at the car's location, they looked it over for obvious clues and signs of foul play, hoping they might find a clue that would put them onto a suspect. Finding nothing obvious, however, they had it towed to their garage where they could go over it with a fine-tooth comb.

At the crime lab garage, technicians first dusted the car for latent prints. They also vacuumed the interior, with the hope and expectation they would retrieve trace evidence such as clothing fibers, hairs and so forth. It was not revealed whether they obtained any identifiable fingerprints or whether the car had been wiped free of prints, and it was not dis­closed if any trace evidence was uncovered.

As an additional effort to uncover any clues that might put them onto a suspect, the detectives canvassed the Southeast Portland neighborhood where Linda's car had been found. They asked all of the area residents if anyone had been seen leaving the car, when it was first noticed that the car had been abandoned, and so forth. No one, however, could tell the probing investigators anything about the car except to say that it had been parked in the neighborhood for several days when it was reported to police.

As of this writing, the only thing OSP investigators will release about Linda Scaletta's car was that a letter was found inside. The letter was written by Linda and addressed to a relative, in which she described her new life in Portland.

"I was so scared to start taking that first step to where I'm standing now (be­coming independent)," Linda wrote. "But it was worth it."

Now, in 1985, more than three years have passed since that early morning eastbound passenger spotted Linda Scaletta's nude body lying face down in the snow near Mount Hood. Her case remains unsolved, and investigators have no new leads to run down. It appears that, without the help of a con­cerned citizen who may have knowledge of the crime itself, the death of Linda Scaletta will never be solved.

Anyone with information about the case, no matter how trivial it may seem, can call the Criminal Investigations De­partment of the Oregon State Police at (503) 238-8420.

Editor's Note:

Henry Smith is not the real name of the person so named in the foregoing story. A fictitious name has been used because there is no reason for public interest in the identity of this person.
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