Pima County Jane Doe and the Identification of Brenda Gerow | True Crime Shorts

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In Nashua, New Hampshire, on April 8th 1981, the body of a white female was discovered in the desert. She was found by hunters, who saw a denim jacket hanging from a tree, and went to investigate.

The as then unidentified female had been strangled to death by a ligature no more than two days earlier. She had also been raped and violently beaten.

Due to the conditions of the desert, her body had already entered an advanced state of decomposition. This combined with the circumstances of her death, meant her face was unrecognisable.

Additional evidence at the scene was said to have blown away due to the high winds known to hit the region.

She became known as the Pima County Jane Doe and was buried under a headstone with the Jane Doe designation UNK-1981.

Despite a large investigation and new evidence coming to light in the years after her death, she wasn’t identified until 2015, 34 years later.

In 1995, while building an unconnected murder case against John Kalhauser, investigators discovered a photograph of a young female holding a bouquet of flowers.

Pima County Jane Doe and the Identification of Brenda Gerow | True Crime Shorts
Photo of Brenda in Kalhauser’s possession. Original reconstruction of Pima County Jane Doe. Credits: Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

Kalhauser refused to identify her, and the photo was logged with evidence as a Jane Doe.

In 2013, police released the photo to the public and asked for their help in identifying the person in the picture.

In 2014, their efforts came through, and investigators learned the girl in the photo was 21-year-old Brenda Marie Gerow, who had disappeared around the same time.

Evidence later linked Gerow with the unidentified female and she was officially named. In 1999, Kalhauser was sentenced to 20 years for the murder of his wife and was released in May of 2019.

Despite his connection with Gerow, he has never been charged, and his whereabouts remain a mystery.

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