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Brian Lee Clifton Charged With The 1996 Murder Of His Wife, Kathy Clifton After Her Case Was Featured On 'The Jane Doe Murders'

Kathy Clifton's husband Brian Lee Clifton has been charged in her murder. Her remains went unidentified for 25 years before her cold case killing was featured on Oxygen's "The Jane Doe Murders"

By Constance Johnson

After 25 years, detectives in Polk County, Oregon have charged convicted killer Brian Lee Clifton with the 1996 murder of his wife Kathy Clifton.

In September of 1996 the skeletal remains of an adult female were found in the hills of Polk County, but investigators were unable to identify the victim for years. They used everything from CT scans to 3D rendered images. Then in 2019, Yolanda McClary, a retired crime scene investigator with the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, reached out to them. Genealogists working with McClary were able to develop a DNA profile, and with that information they determined that the victim was Kathy Clifton. The case and the process for identifying the remains was featured on Oxygen's The Jane Doe Murders.

Kathy Clifton was the youngest of three girls born to Leo and Jessie Thomas of Oklahoma. When Leo and Jessie divorced, Leo brought Kathy to Oregon and she was later adopted by Aileen Buxton. Kathy had three children in her first two marriages, but lost custody, and they were adopted by other families in Oklahoma.

Kathy eventually returned and married Clifton in 1984. They settled in the Salem area and Kathy’s last contact with anyone she knew was in March of 1996. Her remains were discovered six months later in Polk County. 

Kathy Buxton Jane Doe 5

Authorities say no missing persons reports were filed for Kathy. Investigators later discovered Clifton married another woman about one month after Kathy’s remains were found and moved out of Oregon, reports the Polk County Optimizer-Observer

Detectives located Clifton in December of 2020 and interviewed him multiple times about Kathy's disappearance

In August of this year, a Polk County Grand Jury indicted Clifton for Kathy’s murder. On August 13, he was taken into custody. Detectives say after his arrest, he admitted to his involvement in Kathy’s murder. Clifton was arraigned and charged with murder in the first degree on Tuesday and is being held without bail at the Polk County Jail.