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Texas Jane Doe Raped And Murdered 41 Years Ago Identified As Minnesota Teen

The girl now identified as Sherri Ann Jarvis was last seen asking for directions to the local prison.

By Jax Miller
Jane Doe Murdered 41 Years Ago Identified As Teen

A Texas Jane Doe has finally been identified more than 40 years after someone murdered her and left her on the side of a busy road.

The body of the unidentified homicide victim was found near the shoulder of interstate IH-45 north of Huntsville on Nov. 1, 1980, according to a statement by the Walker County Sheriff’s Office obtained by Oxygen.com. The victim was a white female who’d arrived in town the day before, believed to be between the ages of 15 and 20.

Her cause of death was asphyxia due to strangulation. According to Herald-Banner, she was raped during or shortly after her death.

Now, 41 years later, that Jane Doe has been identified as 14-year-old Sherri Ann Jarvis of Stillwater, Minnesota.

“We lost Sherri more than 41 years ago, and we’ve lived in bewilderment every day since,” Sherri’s family said in a statement to Oxygen.com. “Until now, as she has finally been found.”

Relatives described Jarvis as a child who loved horseback riding, animals, and children.

“She was deprived of so many life experiences as a result of this tragedy,” the family continued. “Our parents passed away never knowing what happened to her or having any form of closure, but we are grateful that they never had to endure the pain of knowing her death was so brutal.”

Early in the investigation, Walker County deputies learned the unidentified girl spoke with several locals on Oct. 31, 1980, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Jarvis asked for directions to the Ellis Prison Farm north of Huntsville and received written directions. She told witnesses she was from the Rockport, Aransas Pass area some four hours away.

“The initial investigation focused on identifying the victim and determining any possible relationship she may have had with the Texas Department of Corrections,” stated the Sheriff’s Office. “Employees and inmates at the time were interviewed with negative results.”

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Over time, the case grew cold.

In July 2020, investigators with the sheriff’s office, with help from the Texas Rangers and Othram Labs, ran a tissue sample collected from Jarvis’s autopsy to create a DNA profile. In March 2021, Jarvis’s DNA matched six of her relatives via “internet sources.”

Relatives told authorities that Jarvis ran away in early 1980 at age 14.

“She was a tender 13 years of age when the state removed her from our home for habitual truancy,” the family stated. “Sherri never returned to our home as promised in a letter we received from her shortly after her departure.”

Despite hiring private investigators, loved ones in Minnesota were left without answers, while a nameless headstone in Texas was erected for the Jane Doe.

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Now, authorities hope to find who killed Sherri Ann Jarvis.

“From a prosecutor’s perspective, I just hope that this information will lead us to whoever did this,” said Walker County District Attorney Will Durham, according to the Herald-Banner. “This information will lead us to whoever did this, and if they are alive, we will prosecute to the fullest extent possible.”

Sheriff Clint McRae echoed this sentiment in the sheriff’s office statement.

“I never liked to refer to this case as a ‘cold case,’” said McRae. “It has always been a top priority, and we have never forgot her.”

Sherri Jarvis’s family plans to visit her final resting place in Texas and hopes justice will prevail. 

“We will continue to support those seeking her killer(s) because she did not deserve the death she received,” they continued. “And justice served to those who would commit such a heinous act would be [a] fitting tribute to Sherri.”

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