Unidentified Red-Haired Woman, Located May 10, 1950
Unidentified White Female
The victim was located on old US 522, near Hancock Bridge, in Morgan County, West Virginia on May 10, 1950.
Last edited by Starless; 02-10-2012 at 08:08 AM.
The Morning Herald
May 12, 1950
POSSIBLE MURDER CLUES FOUND HERE
Dress Found On Pike Said To Fit Victim;Abandoned Auto Held. Man At Berkely Springs Says He Picked Up Victim At Altoona.
Police in Washington County last night had two possible clues in the murder of a red-haired woman whose nude, strangled body was thrown over an embankment just across the Potomac River in Hancock. And the two clues seemed to fit together.
The first was a woman's buff-colored dress, found tossed in the grass along the Sharpsburg Pike near Rowland's Service Station.
The other clue was a car with Pennsylvania license tags abandoned farther south near the Sharpsburg Pike at Mountain Lock. The car, which State Police said was listed as stolen by Pennsylvania authorities, was parked in a lane at daybreak Saturday, according to a witness who said he saw an unidentified person get out and leave the car.
Sheriff Gets Dress
Morgan County Sheriff Paul Munson, who took the woman's fingerprints to the FBI in Washington yesterday, along with West Virginia Trooper Charles Burke, stopped in Hagerstown last night enroute back home. He picked up the dress found on the Sharpsburg Pike, telling a Morning Herald reporter at the time that the dress looked like it would fit the murder victim.
Late last night from a source in Berkely Springs, it was learned that the dress turned out to be a "good fit" for the dead woman.
Munson said the woman's fingerprints were not in the FBI's criminal files.The bureau, late last night, was still checking them against an extensive collection of civilian prints.
Meanwhile, authorities in Berkely Springs announced they have a promising clue to the identity of the red-haired woman.
Morgan County prosecutor S.D. Helsey said one of the 1,000 or more persons who have viewed the body since it was found yesterday reported he was fairly certain the woman was a hitchhiker he gave a ride earlier this week.
T.C. Yost, a former Morgan County commissioner, was the witness.
Helsey said Yost told this story:
A pretty red haired woman was walking along a highway near Altoona, PA when he gave her a lift.
He did not know her name, but she told him she lived just outside of Akron, Ohio, and her first name was Betty Lou.
She chain-smoked and talked about some sort of trouble with her family.
Betty Lou told him she planned to marry a truck driver and wanted to get to the Pennsylvania Turnpike to meet him.
Yost dropped the young woman off at Bedford, PA about 45 miles from where the body was found.
He said his passenger complained of a blistered heel.
The murder victim's heel was blistered.
The dress that may have belonged to the murder victim was found yesterday afternoon by John Myers of Sharpsburg. State's Attorney Martin L. Ingram, Deputy Sheriff Leister Isanogle, and a Morning Herald reporter went to Sharpsburg soon afterwards and picked up the dress.
There was no sign of identification on the dress which was of light material and buff-colored. Except for a few small grass stains there were no marks. The dress was not torn in any place and the buttons and zipper fasteners were not disturbed.
Ingram and Isanogle , earlier in the day, went to Berkely Springs, but said they did not recognize the dead woman as being a resident of this section.
Maryland State Police have been maintaining liason with West Virginia Police so they will be in a position to launch full investigation should the case turn out to involve Maryland people. Trooper Richard Garvey, stationed at Hancock, went on duty in Berkely Springs and Trooper First Class Harold Basore, from Frederick Barracks, was also dispatched later in the day
Latest reports from Berkely Springs placed the dead woman's age at about 35.
Scar On Forehead
The only identifying marks were a scar on the forehead and a scar from an abdominal operation. There were not even any marks from rings on her fingers.
A mushroom hunter, Benjamin Mills of Hancock, found the body Tuesday along a little-used road near the bridge that crosses the Potomac River in Hancock.
The spot was about 200 feet from the West Virginia bank of the river and the road is known locally as a lover's lane.
An autopsy disclosed the woman had been strangled and the neck was broken. There were also bruises on her head and face. She had been dead three or four days. There was no evidence of rape.
Two physicians from Martinsburg, W VA rported that the woman had been dead about three or four days and had died of strangulation and also had three seperate concussions of the brain.
Because none of the visitors at the funeral home could identify the body, police held the theory that she may have been killed a great distance away and taken to Morgan County.
Several reports were sifted during the day. Early in the morning, there was one that the woman was a former Berkely Springs waitress whose husband worked in Cumberland.
The husband was located and told police his wife has false teeth. The dead woman had natural teeth.
Later another man called from Cumberland and said the body might be that of his sister. It developed that his sister's hair was dyes red. The dead woman had natural red hair.
Local authorities recalled that the murder was similar to one near Hagerstown four years ago.
On April 4, 1946, 18-year-old Betty Jane Kennedy left a tavern, her body was found later near Rouzerville, PA. She had been strangled and most of her clothing removed.
Police carried on a 13-state investigation for months but no clue to the killer was ever found..
Morgan Messenger, The (Berkeley Springs, WV)
September 5, 2007
The Redhead Murder Case
Victim still unknown, slayer still unknown
Author: John Douglas
(Reprinted from The Morgan Messenger, May 24, 2000)
Sgt. Emmett Roush of West Virginia State Police had the unpleasant job of rolling the redheaded woman's body out of cold storage at Newton D. Baker Veterans Hospital whenever people showed up to see if she was a missing relative or friend. Some days it seemed as if he did this every few hours.
The public's interest in the case hadn't flagged since the redhead's nude body was found near the Hancock Bridge on Wednesday, May 10, 1950.
One of the strangest encounters was when a hearse came to the Martinsburg facility to claim the body. Seemed that a woman from Essex, Maryland, believed the victim was a barmaid she'd roomed with in 1941. She described her former roommate completely, down to the scars.
Police became skeptical because the description so closely matched the details given in Baltimore newspapers. Turned out that a $400 insurance policy, equivalent to several thousand dollars today, had been kept up on the missing woman. Police figured her "friend" needed a body to collect the money.
Man saw "terrible sight"
New leads turned up almost every day, and all of them went nowhere. For example, State Police turned their attention to the Morgantown area the week after the body was discovered. A landlady reported that one of her tenants had seen "a terrible sight" near Hancock on Tuesday, May 9.
Story went that the 31-year-old man from National, West Virginia, had been driving home from New Jersey and pulled onto a side road near Hancock for a nap. There, he'd seen the nude, battered body of a woman down an embankment. Frightened, he drove away.
On May 16, police took the fellow into custody and brought him back to Berkeley Springs. This time, it was the Washington Times-Herald's turn to over-react. The paper reported that the man had a police record and that a 17-year-old girl had recently been strangled near Millville, New Jersey, where he'd been visiting. The paper headlined "Lie Test For Suspect in Redhead Murder."
Over the next few days, the suspect was dragged from his cell at all hours and questioned by police in Berkeley Springs and Elkins. He denied any involvement, claiming he'd "just made the whole story up to be telling something exciting."
While there was some question as to whether he told the tale to his landlady before the body was found, the man passed two lie detector tests and his story never wavered under hard grilling. He was eventually released, and had the distinction of being the only person ever taken into custody in connection with the murder.
Too many questions
Police barely had time to catch their breath, however. Strange goings-on and wild theories were in big supply. Every unusual event in the area, every item found by the roadside, every death or disappearance was seen as possibly tying to the redhead murder.
A box of women's underthings was found four miles from where the body had been discovered? Did this mean something?
A 59-year-old Virginia man committed suicide about six miles south of Berkeley Springs. Was he connected in some way?
An 18-year-old girl had been strangled in Rouzerville, Pennsylvania in 1946, and a young Hagerstown woman had been murdered in 1949. Was there a pattern?
As Trooper Charles Burke, the main investigator, said later, "I was just going to a blind wall about every way I went. The girl was a T-total stranger. It's awfully hard to solve a case when you don't know whose body you have."
Like Prosecuting Attorney Sy Helsley and virtually everyone else who ever worked the case, Burke became convinced that the victim and the killer were not from Morgan County. He believed the body was simply dumped here, near Rt. 40. Newspapers were quick to point out: "The scene is not far from main roads to Washington, Baltimore, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Cumberland and Winchester."
On Tuesday, May 23, the unknown redhead's body was returned to Hunter Funeral Home in Berkeley Springs. A funeral service was conducted by Rev. Thomas Sunderland and the body was buried in an unmarked grave in Greenway Cemetery. Buried that day, too, was most of the national attention.
The woman on the bus
Morgan County Sheriff Paul Munson and Maryland State Trooper Harold Basore didn't attend the funeral. They'd left on May 22 for Columbus, Ohio, to follow what authorities considered their best lead.
A week earlier, Troopers Basore and Burke had talked to R. H. Grossnickle, a bus driver for Blue Ridge Lines. The officers had heard that Grossnickle was telling people about a redhaired woman who'd gotten off his bus in Hancock at 1:35 a.m. on May 5.
Shown a photo of the dead woman, Grossnickle said she looked a lot like his passenger, who'd had a one way ticket from Columbus. Arriving in Hancock, the lady had asked where she could get a taxi at that hour to Needmore, Pennsylvania.
Basore confirmed the story by going to Frederick and picking up the woman's used bus ticket. In the early morning hours of May 15, Basore drove Grossnickle to Martinsburg to view the body and the bus driver reaffirmed his identification.
An elderly woman from Oklahoma had also gotten off the bus in Hancock on May 5. Police found her at a relative's house and she agreed with Grossnickle's account. She'd spoken with the redhead and said she seemed to be acquainted with the Berkeley Springs area.
Basore and Hancock Police Chief Howard Murfin visited stores, post offices and schools where they showed the victim's photo to hundreds of people, to no avail. They even made inquiries at a nudist colony near Hancock. The redhead, after all, had been naked.
So, on May 22, Basore and Munson headed to Columbus, Ohio. The ticket agent at the Penn Greyhound Station told them that the woman in the photo looked like the same one who'd bought a ticket on May 4.
Turned out five women were missing from the Columbus area at the time. Munson and Basore felt the most likely candidate was Lottie Gibson, 31, a native of Akron who had friends in Fulton County and had worked at times in parts of West Virginia.
They began asking people in this area about Gibson. A cab driver admitted he'd given her a ride from the bus stop at Hancock to Black Oak, Pennsylvania. He said he hadn't told police before because he was afraid to get involved.
Apparently, the woman stayed about three days at the home of Charles Bishop. A minister recalled seeing her at the Black Oak Church. Members of the Bishop family said Lottie Gibson was looking for Bishop's son, Preston Bishop, with whom she'd spent the previous winter in Florida and Georgia. She left Black Oak on May 7 or 8, and she did look a lot like the dead redhead, they said.
Police were still sorting this out when, on June 15, another of Bishop's sons, Walter Bishop, was charged with shooting and killing his brother Lester during a quarrel, according to Trooper Burke's police report. No motive for the slaying was ever established.
Police believed they were on to something with the Lottie Gibson investigation, but, on July 11, that bubble burst, too. Gibson was living in Michigan, according to relatives. A few days later, she traveled to Hancock and met with Maryland authorities.
Everything they'd been told about her was true, she said. Except, she wasn't the murder victim. She'd left Hancock on May 8, never having found Preston Bishop.
By summer's end, all trails were as cold as the redhead's body.
On Christmas Day, 1950, someone put flowers on her unmarked grave.
Woman lost, woman found
On a cold January day in 1951, police got a fresh tip when a Berkeley Springs woman told Trooper Burke that her family had come to believe the redhead might be a distant in-law, a Mrs. Phillips, who occasionally visited this area.
A native of Cumberland, Mrs. Phillips was a widow who'd run a tavern in Colonial Beach, Virginia. She hadn't been heard from for almost a year. Her description fit the victim's so well that Virginia authorities had even written Town of Bath Police when the murder was making national headlines, but they'd never received a reply.
As soon as he was informed, Prosecutor Helsley arranged for Burke and Sheriff Munson to travel to Colonial Beach on January 21. FBI Agent John Anthony of Martinsburg, who also went along, felt certain the case had now been cracked, Helsley said.
But soon the circumstantial evidence began to spring leaks, as it had with The Woman On The Bus and so many other theories. Police found Mrs. Phillips alive and well in Florida, where she'd remarried and started a new life.
In March 1951, Burke closed his police report with the words: "To date all clues have run out."
Still, he added optimistically: "Investigation will continue on this case until it is solved."
That Easter, someone again put roses on the redhead's grave. After a little legwork, police found that the holiday flowers were placed there by an elderly woman who felt sorry for the murdered woman.
Case still open
The case never quite died, however. The FBI magazine featured a story in February, 1951, and a New York newspaper found it interesting enough to write about a year later. Now and then, The Morgan Messenger reminded readers that the redhead had never been identified and the case was still open.
Burke kept the woman's photo on his desk and showed it to people from time to time, but the months spread into years.
He hoped in 1957 that there might be a break. Maybe someone would try to collect insurance on a relative who'd been missing for seven years and could now be declared dead. But 1957 came, and 1957 went.
The tenth anniversary of the murder was marked with a UPI wire service story by reporter John Kady, who considered the case "one of the great mysteries."
The story brought a couple of inquiries about long-missing relatives, but again nothing solid developed.
By the time that Corporal Don Sharp came to the Berkeley Springs detachment of State Police in 1968, the Redhead Murder Case was something of a legend.
There were still plenty of people who knew the details, not the least of them Sy Helsley, who continued as prosecutor until 1973. Every so often, Deputy Sheriff Frank Harmison would bring up the case.
Harmison, in fact, got a letter in the fall of 1974 from an elderly woman in Florida. For years she'd been trying to find her sister, Ruth H. She'd heard about the 1950 slaying, and it made her wonder.
Corporal Sharp learned that Ruth H had been born in Winchester and lived briefly in Morgan County as a child. Eventually she moved to the West Coast where "she sort of went bad," the sister told Sharp.
Sharp contacted police in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle. He found that Ruth H had been arrested several times for prostitution during World War II. Her fingerprints were on file and he requested a copy.
The West Virginia State Police lab determined that three fingerprints matched the redhead's, or at least appeared to match, given the copies that the lab was provided. The identification was not considered positive enough to be conclusive.
And that's where the case stands today.
Victim unknown, slayer unknown.
"We did everything we could"
Sharp, now a senior status magistrate filling in locally, always believed the murdered woman may have been a prostitute who was killed elsewhere and dumped here, or just had the bad luck to hitch a ride with a killer.
Trooper Burke, who retired to Grafton, never quite got the case out of his head. "It was one that stuck out," he said in 1990. "It really caused me sleepless nights. I wish I could have come through, but as far as I know, we did everything we could."
Last edited by Starless; 02-10-2012 at 08:09 AM.
Charleston Gazette (WV)
August 23, 2007
MURDER IN MORGAN COUNTY 57 years later, clues may emerge in mystery of woman's death
Author: Gary A. Harki
In the spring of 1950, a man was picking mushrooms along a road in Morgan County when he made a grisly discovery - the nude, twisted body of a woman, strangled to death.
Hundreds viewed the body and State Police followed up dozens of leads, but the woman's identity and her killer have remained one of the state's baffling mysteries for 57 years.
Now, thanks to new technology and a family still searching for the fate of their mother, at least part of that mystery may be solved.
On Wednesday, police exhumed the woman's body from her unmarked grave in Berkeley Springs. They hope her DNA might lead police to a killer - and the family of Anna Bouslog Davis to their long-missing mother.
The woman's body was found about 4 p.m. on May 10, beside the Hancock bridge, 42 feet down an embankment beside old U.S. 522, according to a 1951 story in The Charleston Gazette on the murder.
"For more than two hours the area was combed ... but nothing connected to the death could be found," according to the article. "Meanwhile news of the discovery spread like wildfire."
Hundreds gathered to view the body, and the woman's description was distributed far and wide: 5-foot-5, about 130 pounds, auburn hair, fair complexion, hysterectomy and appendectomy scars.
Leads on the identity turned up everywhere. A bus driver remembered a red-haired passenger with a small overnight bag with a ticket from Oklahoma to Morgan County. The body was twice misidentified as a woman later found living in Pittsburgh.
Police searched for the killer, too. An escapee from the state penitentiary at Moundsville was believed to have stolen a car in Wheeling and abandoned it near the murder scene, but nothing could ever be proven.
A man was arrested five days after the murder, after saying he had seen the body when he pulled off the side of the road to nap. He said he awoke the next day and saw her lying there, blue and swollen. He was released after a polygraph test showed he was telling the truth.
State Police issued a statement in December 1951: "Until someone comes forward with this information, the case is likely to remain unsolved and every day and month and year that passes will further obscure the memory of this woman's life."
Any memories Anna Bouslog Davis' children had of their mother were already obscure in 1950, and have grown hazier in the 57 years since.
By 1950, Davis had already been missing for six years.
She was born in 1902, although she lied about her age when she married Tony Davis in 1917. On her marriage license, she said she was born in 1896, said Marquita Davis, who has been investigating the case for Anna's three surviving children. She is not related to the family.
The children remember little of their mother and did not wish to be interviewed, Davis said.
Florence Hitt, the oldest child, is now 87. She remembers fixing her mother's curly red hair, Davis said.
"Florence said [her mother] hated her hair. She wanted to do something different to it but couldn't," Davis said.
All three of the children do remember one thing about their mother; that she had their dad committed to a mental institution.
"She said their father kept a knife under the pillow and threatened to kill her and the children," Davis said. "The kids say she was nuts."
Anna's brother was a renowned doctor in Colorado and helped her get her husband committed, Davis said.
The couple divorced in 1939. Not long after, Anna Davis went to live with another man in California. After that - the children's' memories are not clear exactly when - their mother stopped writing and was never heard from again, Davis said.
Tony Davis was eventually released from the mental institution, but never took full custody of the children.
"The kids lived with their grandmother and were pretty much farmed out to other relatives," Davis said.
When Marquita Davis started looking into the disappearance, she traced Anna Davis' father and grandfather to West Virginia.
"Her grandfather John Scott Bouslog was born in Morgantown and her father was born in Granville," Davis said. "Maybe she went to her brother who helped her get back to relatives in West Virginia."
Bus routes from the 1950s could have easily sent Anna through Berkeley Springs, Davis said.
It was looking at those bus routes and learning of the unsolved 1950 murder that led Davis to the unmarked grave in Berkeley Springs. She contacted State Police, who eventually agreed to exhume the body for DNA testing.
"This may be their mother," said Sgt. Danny Swiger, cold case investigator for the State Police.
"There are some similarities. When you superimpose photos of [Anna] and the body, the jaw lines, hairlines match up. Both had red hair. Both had appendectomy and hysterectomy scars."
Swiger said it might take as long as six months to find out if the body buried long ago is Anna Davis. Because she lived on the West Coast, it could explain why no one could identify her.
Discovering the identity of the body could also open up new leads on who the killer was, Swiger said. And even if the body isn't Anna Davis, some good might still come out of Wednesday's exhumation.
"If it doesn't work, we will still put the DNA into the missing persons database. We might find out who she is yet," he said.
Last edited by Starless; 02-10-2012 at 08:10 AM.
Morgan Messenger, The (Berkeley Springs, WV)
August 29, 2007
Digging into a 57-year-old murder case
Author: John Douglas
Wednesday, August 22, 2007.
By late morning, they'd found the remains of a body.
Was it the unknown red-haired woman who was buried in an unmarked grave in Greenway Cemetery on May 23, 1950?
By mid-afternoon, things were even less clear.
They'd found bones from a second body in the same grave.
Early June, 2007.
Sgt. D. B. Swiger strolled into The Morgan Messenger office late one warm afternoon.
He wondered whether The Messenger had files going back 57 years.
The answer: No.
He began talking about a redhead, whose nude body had been found along the roadside near the Hancock Bridge on Wednesday afternoon, May 10, 1950.
Swiger, one of two Cold Case Investigators for the West Virginia State Police, was taking a new look at the unsolved case.
Seems a woman's family was hoping to find a mother they hadn't seen since 1939. They'd hired a private investigator who'd come across the Redhead Murder Case through the internet. They thought she might be the one.
Swiger had come to Berkeley Springs
to learn what he could, but it wasn't
going well. He'd stopped at Bath Town
Hall to check Greenway Cemetery records so he could figure out where the mystery woman had been buried. They were unable to find the records, but they were still looking.
Did we know anyone who might know about the redhead? he asked.
I've researched it and written articles about it, I said, and gave him the stories I'd written in 1991 and 2000.
I suggested he talk with former State Police Corporal Don Sharp, who reopened the case in the 1970s after learning of a woman who thought her long-lost sister might be the redhead.
I'll be back, Swiger said.
And a week or so later, he was.
Friday, June 15, 2007.
It was a blazing hot morning when Sgt. Swiger and I drove to Greenway Cemetery to meet Lee Fox and John Anderson, two people we hoped might know something about the gravesite.
Fox had started as a town officer and employee in the 1950s, and Anderson owned Hunter-Anderson Funeral Home, which had overseen the redhead's burial in 1950.
By then, Bath Town Hall had found documents that showed where the redhead and a few other poor or unknown persons were buried in unmarked graves in what was called the Potter's Field.
Fox said he'd begun working for the town a few years after the burial, but he pointed to a spot on a steep slope on the northern edge of the old part of the cemetery. That's where he'd always been told she was buried.
According to the town's records, that indeed was the place. At least the plot matched up with the marked graves up the hill, and there was an indention suggesting a body.
As we wandered the hillside that near 100-degree day, Charlie Webster came over. He'd lived across the road most of his life and he'd figured out what we were looking for. He remembered the case, though he'd been out of town on the day of the burial. He thought we had the right spot, too.
Wouldn't it be amazing, we all thought, if the redhead could be identified after all these years?
"We are diligently trying to find what happened to this woman," reported an internet posting by Marquita Davis, a private investigator in Layton, Utah.
The woman she was trying to find was Elizabeth Ann Bouslog Davis, no relation to her.
Marquita Davis was working for the missing woman's daughters, now aged 79 and 86.
They last saw their mother in Colorado in 1939, after their parents divorced. She was leaving for San Francisco with a man named John Spooner.
About three years later, she wrote that she was working, apparently as a nurse, at a military hospital in Presidio, California. That was the last the children heard from her.
The investigator's website goes on to list a hodgepodge of information from public documents and the daughters' fading memories.
Elizabeth Ann Bouslog Davis was born on December 30, 1902 in Chrisman, Illinois. She often went by Anna, Elizabeth, Peg or Peggy.
She was between 5'3" and 5'6," and weighed 110 to 135 pounds.
Her hair was an unusual shade of dark red or auburn and was naturally curly -- so curly that she disliked it. She had green or blue eyes.
She took up smoking shortly before she left Colorado for California in 1939.
Wee hours of Thursday, May 11, 1950.
About 12 hours after a nude redhead's body was found by a mushroom hunter, the autopsy on the unknown woman's body was completed at Hunter Funeral Home in Berkeley Springs.
Prosecuting Attorney S. D. Helsley clearly recalled his main impression years later.
The smell of tobacco. When the doctors opened her up, there was a strong smell of tobacco.
The woman's hair was described as "auburn red," or reddish-brown, or brown with red highlights. It was so curly they believed she had just gotten a perm.
The redhead was 5'5" and weighed 125 to 130 pounds.
She had well-healed scars from a hysterectomy and an appendectomy, and a strawberry birthmark on her calf.
Her age was placed at 35 to 40, though many of the thousands of people who viewed the body felt she was older.
She had been strangled some 48 to 96 hours before she was found.
Aside from the estimated age of the unknown redhead, nothing so far ruled out the possibility that she and Elizabeth Ann Bouslog Davis were one and the same.
Sgt. Swiger had been told that Davis even had similar abdominal scars to the redhead's.
There was only one way to be sure. Exhume the redhead's body. Remove some bones for DNA testing. Let the lab do its work.
Swiger called Morgan County Prosecutor Debra McLaughlin and asked if she would present an exhumation order in circuit court.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007.
You couldn't miss that something unusual was happening if you drove through Greenway Cemetery last Wednesday morning.
With even a quick glance, you'd have seen a crew of state troopers, including Sgt. Swiger, Sgt. Carl Mahood and troopers from the Berkeley Springs detachment.
And there was an FBI crew -- an archeologist, a survey team and others from the Pittsburgh Division.
And Circuit Judge David Sanders, who signed the exhumation order. And Barbara Sieglaff, his secretary.
And Prosecutor Debra McLaughlin and Assistant Prosecutor Dan James.
And a Morgan Messenger editor.
And others who came and went throughout the day.
The state troopers dug into the hillside, opening the grave that had been identified in June.
After a while they came across some wood fragments and what appeared to be the rotted remains of a wooden coffin.
Down a little further, and the first bones emerged.
At that point, Special Agent Mike Hochrein took over. A forensic archeologist, Hochrein climbed into the open grave and carefully dug and brushed and vacuumed away dirt and debris until the bones and pieces of a casket could be seen.
The most striking image was of a large leg bone entwined with a piece of boot.
This was troubling since it didn't fit the redhead's story.
Then a handle from a casket was found, with the outer edge facing the body. Immediately there was talk of two bodies in the grave, though the cemetery records only mentioned the redhead's.
Hochrein explained that sometimes there was "grave tumble," in which erosion on such a steep hillside might cause a casket to move and even roll over.
But no one seemed sure. And they had not yet found a skull, from which they hoped to take a couple teeth, a good source of DNA.
Hochrein and the troopers expanded their dig into the gravesite a little.
Other bones and a skull emerged. And that's when they became convinced that the redheaded woman had, without anyone knowing in 1950, been buried on top of or right next to, another unknown body, probably of a man.
You never know when you get into it, what you might run into, Sgt. Swiger said later.
So, instead of taking parts of one body for DNA testing, they took parts of two.
FBI agents carefully placed bones in boxes and bags marked Individual #1 and Individual #2.
The bones and teeth will be sent to a lab at Marshall University where DNA will be extracted and compared with DNA samples from Elizabeth Ann Bouslog Davis' children.
The results could be back in the next two months, or it might take up to six months, Swiger said.
Only then will we know if a woman who left her family in Colorado in 1939 ended her life as an unknown strangling victim in Morgan County in 1950.
Last edited by Starless; 02-10-2012 at 08:11 AM.
Morgan Messenger, The (Berkeley Springs, WV)
September 5, 2007
Stirring up 1950
Seemed like everywhere we went last week, people were talking about the Redhead Murder of 1950. Our story about the recent exhumation of the strangled woman's body really stirred up ghosts and memories. For those awaiting it, part two of "The Redhead Murder Case" is elsewhere in this issue.
Gladys Shade of Largent recalled that her entire school class went to Hunter Funeral Home and marched past the redhead's body one May day, more than 57 years ago now. The reason so many people trooped by the lady was the hope that someone might recognize her.
In Shade's memory, the redhead's body laid on a table, not in a casket, and her hair was "blood red."
The story made just as big an impact, then and now, on the Hancock side of the river. The body was, after all, found by a Hancock man not far into Morgan County from the Hancock Bridge.
Larry Gerber said that when he was small, there was a woman's photo on a desk in the Hancock Police Department. Or, maybe it was a picture of someone they were hoping would turn out to be the redhead. He wonders if anyone knows the details.
Several people voiced the same thought that we had as we watched police dig up the redhead's remains. Wouldn't it be great if we would finally learn who she was?
True, but, of course, that's only the first part of the long-standing mystery. We may find out who she is, but never know who killed her or why. After all this time, it's going to be a tough case to crack.
Last edited by Starless; 02-10-2012 at 08:12 AM.
Correction, Clarification, Update
My name is Marquita Davis. I have been working on this case since October of 2006.
I want to make a few corrections to the articles that were written about the RedHead Murder and in particular to references to Elizabeth Ann Bouslog Davis. I want to also take the time to fill in some of the blanks about “Anna”. This is an extremely long and bizarre story, shortened here.
I am a friend who was doing a favor for the family in trying to find their husband's grandmother. Veronica Hitt, married to Jim Hitt grandson of "Anna". Veronica IS a private investigator with her own agency, Veronica’s Investigations, in Utah. After hiring several PI's to look and coming back with very little in information she had almost given up. I, braggingly, (blush) stated that I was good at research. She gave me a name and sketchy information and I began a life changing search for a woman who's children are now in their 80's just really would like to know what happened to their mom. In getting more involved I realized that I was obsessed with the search and overwhelmed with the realization of how many missing and unidentified persons there are and became an investigator myself to try and help in anyway I can to the cause of finding these people.
I began my search by following the few leads that I had. We had a birth date of 1896. A name. The last known year that anyone knew of her whereabouts was between 1942 and 1945 and three photos. The last known documented whereabouts that we have found is her divorce record in 1939. We have photo of her as a very young woman, one with her husband, presumed to be a marriage photo and one of her just before she disappeared. We knew that she had worked at the Jewish National Hospital (a tuberculosis sanitarium) as a nurse, that she had committed her husband to a mental hospital before she left and would not release him. We also knew that she went to California with John Spooner and that she wrote home saying that she was working at the Presidio.
Later, more details would come together as conversations with her daughters Florence and Audrey would pull memories, little by little, from memories long pushed into the recesses of their minds.
The search began with thoroughly looking through many of the common locations to find someone. Obituaries, news articles, cemeteries, club membership rosters, military records, etc. were painstakingly gone through. Thousands of names in the ancestral databases were searched. Internet searches lead to the Doe Network and through inquiring about an identified murdered redheaded woman out of Kern County, California as to where the information came from on the doenetwork.com site as to verify it’s origin and validity due to the adamant claim by Kern County that there was no such case. (Though, I might add, he never had time to even research such a claim before abruptly stating so).
Kimberly and Todd Matthews, from the Doe Network and Missing Pieces site sent me a photo of another possibility. It was the face of the deceased redheaded woman in WV. In superimposing that photo over the photo of “Anna” the match was strikingly similar. The superimposition from various angles was enough of a match to interest Kimberly and Todd, who also got the same opinion from a couple of other sources. A letter, via email, with the photos attached, was sent to Sgt. Swiger, cold case investigator, in WV which resulted in a phone call from him to me saying that he would open the case. I then found an archived newpaper article about the story.
The Davis children were notified that DNA tests would be done and the body of the murder victim exhumed and DNA collected from the remains. As stated in the articles there are many similarities between the murdered woman and “Anna”. The approximate height and weight, the petite size of the hands and feet, the fact that she began smoking before she left, a little known reported similarity is that there was a strawberry colored birthmark on the leg of both women, the appendectomy and hysterectomy scars, the unusual color of red, extremely curly hair. Sgt. Swiger was very skeptical after talking with the daughters and they stated that there was no reason for their mother to be in WV. Doing genealogical research it was discovered, however, that Anna’s grandfather and great grandfather were both born in WV. The Davis children were estranged from the Bouslog side of the family because, as they stated, the Davis’ were beneath the Bouslog’s in status. Could it be that once not associated with the Davis family, except through the children, that Anna turned to her father’s family?
Anna was born in Illinois… if you draw a straight line from Illinois to where the body was found it is almost a straight shot across the country with main bus lines running right through there. It was through the Doe Network that led me to search WV not the bus routes as written by Gary Harki in the Charlotte Gazette. This organization combined with the Missing Pieces network both headed up by Todd Matthews and in association with Kimberly Bruklis should be given credit for helping to get this case to WV and to Sgt. Swiger. I cannot emphasize enough how much these organizations do to help find people, get the word out, bring closure and comfort to families.
As of this moment we are still awaiting results of the DNA. The results were delayed due to a couple of surprising factors, the first being that in exhuming the body there were also partial remains of a second person in the grave that needed to be tested and have since had yet another family come forward thinking this might be their family member so the DNA from that family had to be processed. There results were promised by January, 2008 so we should know something any day now.
Should the remains not be Anna this case will then be continued only now with more issues to be uncovered, like who is the redhead? The Department of Justice is waiting on the results of the DNA should it not be Anna to pick up the search back in California.
Meanwhile, Florence, age 87, the oldest daughter of Anna, is ailing ... our prayer is that we find what happened to her mother before she can't understand that we have finally found her mother or before she passes and it is too late.
Hi, thanks for joining. There are a lot of myths running around in old newspaper articles, I should put a disclaimer at the top of the site. Sounds like you've got yourself into a big mystery and adventure, and met a pretty nice family as well. Hope it all turns out and hope it is fast. Thanks for letting us know about Anna and that is great that they will have a sample of this woman's dna on file, even if it doesn't turn out to be her, it could be someone else's family member who is searching and they could get a hit. It's amazing to me that this was even happening back then, I guess murder has no age.
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