On August 9, 1976, a trucker found the bodies of a young male and female along a remote dirt road in Sumter County, South Carolina. Neither person was carrying any identification. Both had been shot three times, once each in the throat, chest, and back. The murder weapon was believed to be a .357 caliber revolver.
Drawings of the victims’ faces and features, dental information, and fingerprints were distributed across the United States and Canada, but no match was found. Over the years, as DNA technology has progressed, tests have been compared to thousands of unidentified bodies in both countries, but they have also failed to hit pay dirt.
Forty-three years later, Sumter County officials are still stumped, as the identities of “Jock and Jane Doe” remain a mystery.
The couple was believed to have been dropped off on Locklair Road, a secluded dirt road between I-95 and S.C. 341 (Lynches River Road). Investigators believe the pair may have been hitchhiking or were killed by hitchhikers after hijacking their car.
Police found no eyewitness to the murders. However, approximately two hours before the bodies were found, a man said he heard a car driving along the dirt road. Shortly thereafter, he heard gunshots, followed by the sound of a car hurriedly driving away.
A nearby campground employee remembered meeting the couple several weeks before their murders. He spoke with the man whom he thought had said his name was “Jacques.”
The man said he was the son of a Canadian doctor and that he and the woman were on vacation, en route to Florida. The campground employee did not learn the woman’s name.
The man became known as “Jock Doe.”
An examination by a forensic dentist suggested the couple either had money or had come from a family of means.
Jock Doe had had extensive dental work including a unique form of root canal surgery not commonly performed in America. It also appeared he had been midway through a complete dental restoration. The root canal surgery and dental restoration both would have been expensive procedures.
Jane Doe had also had extensive dental work as she had fillings in all of her back teeth. In addition, her front teeth were straight.
Oddly, neither victim was wearing underwear when their bodies were discovered.
Autopsies found no drugs or alcohol in either the victim’s system. Each had recently eaten fruit or ice cream with fruit, and a man believed he saw the couple eating at a local fruit stand shortly before their murders.
Despite the clues, all efforts to identify “Jock and Jane Doe” proved fruitless.
Jock Doe wore a 14-karat gold ring and an expensive gold Bulova Accutron wristwatch. Using the serial number, investigators determined Bulova had made the watch in 1968.
Bulova, however, destroyed many of its records when the company downsized in the early seventies, and it could not be determined where the watch had been distributed or purchased.
Jane Doe wore expensive wedge-heeled lavender/pink sandals and three expensive costume jewelry rings made of sterling silver. The sandals were Stride-Rite brand; the rings appeared to be authentic handmade Native American or Mexican costume jewelry. The rings are believed to have originated in the Southwestern United States.
• The first ring had an ornate scrolling feather shape with coral and turquoise stones.
• The second ring was a black, oblong stone embedded with small turquoise chips.
• The third was a metal band with red, white, and blue stones.
Jock Doe was believed to have been born between 1946-58, meaning he was believed to be 18-30-years-old when he was murdered in 1976. “Jock” is a fitting sobriquet, as he had a lean, athletic build, standing over 6’0 tall and weighing approximately 150 pounds.
Jock Doe had shoulder-length hair, brown eyes, and distinctive bushy eyebrows. The elaborate dental work he received may have been performed outside the United States. In addition to a four-inch appendectomy scar, several scars on his back and shoulders suggested he may have been an athlete as such scars are commonly found on players of contact sports.
Jane Doe was believed to been born approximately between 1951-58, meaning she was 18-25-years-old when murdered in 1976.
She was 5′ 5″, weighed 100 to 105 pounds, and had a slim build. She had reddish-brown, shoulder-length hair and bluish-gray eyes. Her most distinguishing features were two moles on the left side of her face near her mouth. She also had unusually long natural eyelashes. Unlike her companion, Jane had no surgical scars.
It was also determined Jane Doe had never been pregnant, and her legs had not been shaved in several weeks.
In 1977, a man was arrested in Latta, South Carolina, for driving while intoxicated. A revolver found in his vehicle was proven to be the murder weapon of the Sumter County Does. Prosecutors, however, deemed the finding insufficient to charge him with the murders.
Serial killer Henry Lee Lucas has been mentioned as a suspect in the murder of the Sumter County Does. Shortly before his death in 2001, Lucas told police he had been in South Carolina on August 9, 1976, and confessed to the murders as well as two other murders in Sumter County, those of an elderly woman in 1975 and of a young man in 1983. Investigators, however, are skeptical due to Lucas’s numerous false confessions of murder. Although convicted of 11 murders, Lucas “confessed” to at least 50 more that were proven he could not have committed.
Most investigators dismiss Lucas’s claims of involvement in all of the Sumter County murders.
Investigators continue to try to identify Sumter County’s “Jock and Jane Doe.” The pair appear not to have been vagrants; in contrast, they appeared to be from upper-class families.
Investigators believe the couple may have been from a country other than the United States, perhaps Canada, and may have been hitchhiking across America. Because the campground employee had thought he heard the man say his name was “Jacques,” police theorize the couple may be of French-Canadian origin.
Because of their similar features and matching olive-colored skin, authorities for many years believed the man and woman were related, possibly having been brother and sister. After the couples’ bodies were exhumed in 2007, however, DNA testing showed they were not biologically related.
If you believe you have any information on the murders of the Sumter County Jock and Jane Doe, or any clues to the victims’ identities, please contact the Sumter County, South Carolina Sheriff’s Office at 803-436-2111.
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Read about more about Jane Doe Cases in Someone’s Daughter By: Silvia Pettem
More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:
Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)
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