On Thursday, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office that detectives have identified Roseburg teenager Precious Jane Doe nearly 43 years after she was murdered in Everett, Washington.
Investigators from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit, Cold Case Team and the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office used DNA evidence to identify the body of Elizabeth Ann Roberts, who was 17 years old when she left home and never returned.
Roberts was born in Hood River in 1959 as Elizabeth Ann Elder before her name changed when she was adopted as a toddler. Her parents raised her in Roseburg.
Roberts’ father reported her as a runaway on July 25, 1977. She called home just once, a few weeks later, from Everett.
The initial investigation revealed Roberts was hitchhiking on August 9, 1977, near Silver Lake, and was picked up by David Roth. When she declined his sexual advances he strangled her and shot her six times.
When Roberts’ body was found in a blackberry bramble in south Everett five days later, she was unrecognizable. Within a few days, Roth confessed to the murder and was sentenced to 26 years in prison. He was released in 2005, according to the Everett Herald.
Lead detective Jim Scharf named her Precious Jane Doe during the investigation, according to the sheriff’s office.
“This young girl was precious to me because her moral decision from her proper upbringing cost her her life,” Scharf said in a release. “I knew she had to be precious to her family too, so I had to find them. We needed to give her name back to her and return her remains to her family.”
The Oregon Health Authority confirmed Roberts’ identity to police on June 16, after decades of collaboration between investigators, DNA analysis and forensic science.
The family is arranging a memorial service for Roberts, and she will be buried in a family plot in Hood River.