My Google alert for “Black Dahlia” sent me to Tori Richards’ piece on an unsolved 1968 homicide being reopened by the Huntington Beach Police Department. Taking the case to the Internet has already dispelled decades of speculation that a purse and some photographs found the same day as the killing might have belonged to the victim. Police say that they have been contacted by the people in the pictures, which are completely unrelated to the killing.
The unidentified victim was found by three boys March 14, 1968, in a drainage ditch separating two plowed fields about 150 yards south of Yorktown Avenue and Newland Street, The Times said.
Police describe the victim as a white or Latino woman 20 to 25 years old, 5-foot-3 to 5-foot-4 and 140 pounds, with dark, shoulder-length hair and brown eyes. She was missing several back upper and lower teeth and her front teeth were somewhat crooked, police say.
She was wearing a multi-colored flower print blouse, purple Capri-style pants, a black imitation leather three-quarter-length coat and flat, loafer-type shoes. She was wearing a ring with a square, light-blue stone in a silver metal setting.
"Her clothing had been torn open, she had been raped and her throat had been cut," The Times said in 1968.
In 2001, the Orange County crime lab obtained a DNA profile from evidence recovered in 1968, but no match has been found in the FBI Combined DNA Index System, police say.
In 1969, The Times reported that a woman named Jacqueline Smay had identified the victim as an acquaintance named Rhonda Fisher. At the time, detectives said the identification hadn't been confirmed. "We think we have found the person Miss Smay thought she knew," Det. Sgt. Monty McKennon said.
In 1972, The Times reported that a former friend had tentatively identified the victim as Teresa Marie Tippet, 29, formerly of Long Beach, who was also known as Mattie Meeker.
"The description she gave us was fairly close to our Jane Doe, and so was her description of a ring the victim was wearing," Det. John Cale said.
Still, detectives said the identification wasn't conclusive and continued to consider the victim a Jane Doe, The Times said.
Curiously enough, The Times referred to Jane Doe as 68-0745 and the Huntington Beach Police Department refers to Jane Doe 68-006079.
Anything with further information should call Det. Mike Reilly (714) 536-5940.
The Huntington Beach police news release is here.
Postscript: I’m unable to find any details on a solution to the other puzzling 1968 homicide in Huntington Beach, that of Marine Staff Sgt. Cecil T. Caldwell, who was shot in the back with a .30-30 while working in a gas station at Bolsa Avenue and Springdale Street.