Teen murder victim identified 41 years later

A teenager known as “Walker County Jane Doe” has been identified, Texas officials said Tuesday, 41 years after she was murdered.

The girl’s name was Sherri Ann Jarvis, and she was 14 when she showed up at a Huntsville truck stop on Halloween of 1980 asking for directions to the Ellis Unit prison, Walker County Sheriff Clint McRae said at a news conference.

The girl said she was from Rockport, Texas, but she was in fact from Stillwater, Minnesota, McRae said.

On Nov. 1, a body was found on the shoulder of an interstate. The cause of death was asphyxia by strangulation, he said.

Detectives interviewed inmates and employees at the prison and spoke with authorities in Rockport, but no one knew who the girl was.

Last year, Walker County investigators began working with Othram, a company that specializes in analyzing DNA from trace or degraded samples. Using tissue samples from Jane Doe’s autopsy, they were able to find six relatives, McRae said.

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Investigators spoke with five family members, who identified Jarvis and said she ran away in 1980.

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In a statement read at the news conference, Jarvis’ family thanked the people who worked to find her.

“We lost Sherri more than 41 years ago and we’ve lived in bewilderment every day since, until now as she has finally been found,” the family said.

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