In 1966, a young woman drowned in the Ropers Motel pool in Pecos, Texas and for more than 50 years her true identity was unknown. The young woman, known until recently as Pecos Jane Doe, checked into the Ropers Motel with an unknown male companion, using the names, Mr. and Mrs. Russell Battoun. Hours later, a hotel employee found the woman’s body in the hotel pool. As the woman was being taken away in an ambulance, her companion checked out of the hotel and was never seen again.
More than 50 years later, Pecos Police Department Chief Lisa Tarango, continued the search for Pecos Jane Doe’s true identity. The victim is buried with a gravestone marked, "Unknown Girl Drowned July 5, 1966" and agency officials have continued to visit her grave and bring flowers. Pecos PD worked with NamUs to collect dental and anthropological information, as well as to do the inital STR testing.
Othram reached out to the Pecos Police Department in early 2020 to help identify the woman using advanced DNA testing. The laboratory work was funded mostly by Pecos Police Department, with a supplementary crowdfund established through DNASolves. Skeletal remains were brought to Othram in August 2020 and work on the case began, first to develop a DNA extract from the bone, and then to construct a DNA profile using Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing®.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children provided support and resources to faciliate an identification. First, NCMEC had produced an artistic sketch of what the woman might have looked like. Later, after successful DNA testing, they coordinated the genealogical research, securing the services of Innovative Forensic, who generously donated the time and resources to work family trees and produce a candidate lead. Pecos Police Department confirmed the lead through DNA testing of a close relative, confirming the identity of Pecos Jane Doe as Jolaine Hemmy.
Jolaine was 17 years old in 1966, working at a drive-in diner in Kansas City, Kansas. She abruptly vanished one day and didn't pick up her last paycheck. Her family reported her missing and worked hard to find out where she had gone and despite tremendous efforts by family and law enforcement, they were unable to find her. At least one family member remembers a man that took particular interest in Jolaine around the time of her disappearance, but little is known about him. Pecos Police Department is continuing to investigate. If anyone has information about Jolaine Hemmy, her disappearance, or the man that she was last seen with, please contact the Pecos Police Department at 432-445-4911 attention Cpl. Felix Salcido.
About Othram Inc.
Othram is the world’s first private DNA laboratory built specifically to apply the power of modern parallel sequencing to forensic evidence. Othram’s scientists are experts at recovery, enrichment, and analysis of human DNA from trace quantities of degraded or contaminated materials. Founded in 2018, and located in The Woodlands, Texas, our team works with academic researchers, forensic scientists, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies to achieve results when other approaches have failed. Follow Othram on Twitter @OthramTech or visit Othram.com to learn how we can help you with your case. Visit dnasolves.com to learn how anyone can make a difference in helping solve the next cold case.