CO GILPIN COUNTY JANE DOE: F, burned remains found in a gravel pit near Blackhawk, CO - 30 September 1952


The victim's charred remains were found under a seven foot charred log in an unused gravel pit in the woods by a man who was on a hunting trip. The body was found approximately 100 yards from Highway 119 and about 25 feet from Clear Creek.

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Unidentified Person / NamUs #UP14826 Female, Uncertain
Date Found
September 30, 1952
Location Found
Gilpin County, Colorado

Case Information
Case Numbers
NCMEC Number
ME/C Case Number

Race / Ethnicity

Estimated Age Group
Adult - Pre 30
Estimated Age Range (Years)
Estimated Year of Death
Estimated PMI
Cannot Estimate
Cannot Estimate
Unidentified Deceased
Date Found
September 30, 1952
NamUs Case Created
February 29, 2016
ME/C QA Reviewed
Location Found Map
General Location
Gilpin County
GPS Coordinates
Circumstances of Recovery
Remains were found in an unused gravel pit in the woods by a man who was on a hunting trip. The body was found under a log and was charred due to being set on fire. The body was found approximately 100 yards from Highway 119 and about 25 feet from Clear Creek.

Details of Recovery
Inventory of Remains
Condition of Remains
Not recognizable - Partial skeletal parts only

Physical Description
Hair Color
Head Hair Description
Body Hair Description
Facial Hair Description
Left Eye Color
Right Eye Color
Eye Description
Distinctive Physical Features
No Information Entered
Clothing and Accessories

Accessories Fragment of sequinned cloth from a turquoise colored blouse; Small electric razor; Metal rivets of blue jeans; Sole of one shoe; Purse; Three empty lipstick container; Man's ring with no setting; Denver tramway token; Three safety pins; Two pieces of a broken handbag mirror Near the Body
Jewelry Rhinestone necklace; Earrings

Investigating Agencies
Gilpin County Sheriff's Office


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1083UFCO - Unidentified Female


1083UFCO1_LARGE.jpg<img src=

Reconstructions of the victim; victim's jewelry.

Date of Discovery: September 30, 1952
Location of Discovery: Blackhawk, Gilpin County, Colorado
Estimated Date of Death: 20 days to a month prior
State of Remains: Not recognizable - Charred partial skeletal parts only
Cause of Death: Homicide

Physical Description
Estimated Age: 17-30 years old
Race: Unknown
Sex: Female
Height: 5'7"
Weight: Unknown
Hair Color: Brown or black
Eye Color: Unknown
Distinguishing Marks/Features: Unknown

Dentals: Available. She had a prominent overbite.
Fingerprints: Not Available
DNA: Not Available

Clothing & Personal Items
Clothing: A fragment of a turquoise sequinned blouse, metal rivets of blue jeans, and the sole of one shoe.
Jewelry: Rhinestone necklace and earrings.
Additional Personal Items: A small electric razor, a purse, and an empty lipstick container. Also found near the remains was a man’s ring with no setting.

Circumstances of Discovery
The victim's charred remains were found under a seven foot charred log in an unused gravel pit in the woods by a man who was on a hunting trip. The body was found approximately 100 yards from Highway 119 and about 25 feet from Clear Creek.

A three-foot stick with blood on it was found about 20 feet from the recovery site. Additionally, a third earring was located.

An autopsy revealed that the victim had suffered blunt force trauma to her head, but it is unknown if this was the cause of death or if she was still alive when set afire.

The victim is referred to as the "Pyre Case" or "Maria."

Investigating Agency(s)
Agency Name: Gilpin County Coroner's Office
Agency Contact Person: Zane Laubhan
Agency Phone Number: 303-582-3957
Agency E-Mail: N/A
Agency Case Number: 14826

NCIC Case Number: Unknown
NamUs Case Number: 14826

Information Source(s)
The Denver Post Cold Cases
Silvia Pettern


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The body was found approximately 100 yards from Highway 119 and about 25 feet from Clear Creek.




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Gilpin County Jane Doe


The burned body of a woman was found on September 30, 1952 in a forest near Highway 119 in Blackhawk, Gilpin County, Colorado. The victim had been placed under a log that was set afire after being doused with an accelerant approximately 20 to 30 days before her remains were found. The victim was believed to be aged between 25 and 30 years old at the time of her murder (born between 1922 and 1927), although she may have been as young as 17. Her hair, which was found attached to the skull, is believed to have been dark in color, and she was approximately five feet seven inches tall. Because of the condition of her body, her weight and race are unknown, as her remains had deteriorated to the point that they weighed 14 pounds. One of the legs was severed from the body, which may have been due to animal activity. The victim had an overbite, which has been described as fairly noticeable. Jewelry found at the scene included a necklace with rhinestones and three earrings. Burned clothing was also found; a light blue sequin top, jeans and a shoe were all recovered, but were fragmented. A lipstick container, an electric razor, a purse, and a man's ring were also at the scene. She was believed to have been hit on the head with a bloody stick nearby before being burned, although it is not known if she was killed after the blow. The stick and one of the earrings were later found by a woman who visited the scene after hearing about the case.

The individual who discovered these remains, Charles Damoth, was initially believed by authorities to be the killer, although his daughter believes otherwise. At least five others were ruled out as possible perpetrators. Damoth admitted to finding the body days before reporting the killing, which some have found suspicious. He claimed he also had cut wood in the area, including the log found on her body. One person also stated they had seen Damoth's truck near the scene around the time the victim was estimated to have died. Polygraph tests used on the suspect never revealed additional evidence. This murder is also referred to as the "Pyre Case," and the victim has also been nicknamed "Maria."


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November 30, 2013, 3:30 pm
Woman’s charred skeleton found under funeral pyre near Black Hawk
By Kirk Mitchell

It was one of Colorado’s biggest unsolved murder mysteries of the 1950s.

Jane Doe, funeral pyre victim
Jane Doe, funeral pyre victim

Who placed a log on top of a woman and torched her body in Gilpin County? It came to be known as the pyre case.

Its a mystery that torments Cathy Jo Damoth even 61 years later. She said she hopes the pyre case can still be solved today, if for no other reason to determine whether her father is guilty of the grotesque murder that stunned Coloradans.

Her father, Charles Damoth, then 31, is the one who discovered the pyre and bones deep in the woods of Jefferson County while on a hunting trip.

“I don’t have any reason to believe my father was involved,” Cathy Jo Damoth wrote me in a recent email.

But authorities at the time did. They repeatedly asked him whether he was involved in any way either with the murder of the Jane Doe or the burning of her body.

Many years after the case was front page news in The Denver Post, Cathy Jo Damoth found newspaper clippings among her family’s belongings.

She wondered if the woman’s identity was ever discovered and if so had anyone ever been arrested for the crime.

“I don’t know why this bothers me today except I watch ‘Cold Case Files’ on television and wonder if her murderer was ever caught,” Cathy Jo Damoth wrote. “I am the last living person in my family and would like to know whether or not my father was involved or not.”

The mystery began on Sept. 30, 1952.

Charles Damoth, an Arvada carpenter, was shooting magpies 6½ miles south of Black Hawk in a small gulch off of Highway 119.


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Wednesday, October 1, 1952
Greeley Tribune


Central City, Colo./ The burned body of a woman was found half concealed under a log on a slope near Colorado Highway 119 five and a half miles from Black Hawk.

Sheriff Kenneth McKenzle said there was no doubt the woman was slain.

"Either she was killed some place else and carried up there to be burned or stunned and put under the log and burned to death," he said "there's no telling how long the body was there."

The body was discovered by Charles E. Damoth of Central City.

The wood was burned almost through and all sections of the body in contact with it were flame seared.

"The only things left recognizable were her legs,one breast and her teeth." Mckenzle said.

"her legs were sticking out from under the log, which s how Mr. Damoth spotted the body."

Only a few scraps of material were found near the body. Among them were a scrap of cloth dotted with sequins, the sole of a shoe, a necklace and ring and an empty lipstick container.

The sheriff said that he judged the woman had been five feet two or three inches tall, about 25 to 30 years old with brown curly hair.


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Newspaper article. The Times-News, November 26, 1953.

Murder case tip brings up questioning.

Alleged man told Scribe in Denver he knew Blackhawk slayer.

Denver, Nov, 26 1953.
Police today were questioning ex-convict Lloyd W. Mason concerning his alleged statement to a newspaper reporter that he knew the identity of the victim of a year-old, unsolved murder case.

The 51-year-old Mason was arrested late Wednesday and booked for investigation after reporter Bob Whearley of the Rocky Mountain News told police of his meeting with the man in a Denver tavern last Sunday.

Whearley said Mason, who has been arrested in the past for bigamy, rape and indecent liberties charges, told him the victim of the mysterious pyre murder at Blackhawk, Colo., more than a year ago might be waitress Dolores Parkhurst, a full-blooded Cherokee indian.

The reporter quoted Mason as saying that he worked with Miss Parkhurst in a restaurant at Granby, Colo., during the summer of 1952.

The missing waitress, listed under the name of Gladys Edwards by Grand County Sheriff Chancy van Pelt, was seen leaving the Granby restaurant the night of September 25, 1952, five days before the charred remains of a woman's body was found beneath a log near Blackhawk.

The body of the woman found beneath the log has never been identified and her murderer never brought to justice.

However, the description of the Parkhurst woman tallied closely with that of Gladys Edwards and reconstructions of the burned victims' features.

The charred body was discovered by Charles Damoth of Central City Colo., Sept. 30, 1952. Damoth has since moved to Michigan.

He voluntarily returned to Colorado several months ago to answer questions concerning the mysterious case.

Whearley said Mason told him he didn't want to go to the police with his story because "I want to stay out of this".

He refused to give the reporter his name but he was traced through a telephone number he gave Whearley.,6859287&hl=nl


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Gilpin County Jane Doe


(Image: Denver Police Department)

In 1952, carpenter Charles Damoth came across a burned body in the woods outside Denver, Colorado. The woman had been beaten to death with a stick, her remains set on fire. A charred log lay across what was left of her broken skeleton. Damoth returned home. But he didn’t call the police. Instead, he waited a while before returning to the crime scene. He would wind up returning to look at the broken body two more times before finally alerting the authorities.

Thanks to Damoth’s suspicious behaviour, he quickly became a suspect. It didn’t help that he admitted to cutting the log that was used to burn the victim – although he said he’d done so several months before, for a fire he never got round to building. Not long after, a witness even came forward, putting Damoth’s truck at the scene of the murder.

Yet Damoth was given lie detector tests and a “truth serum” and passed on each occasion. Nor could anyone identify the dead woman, or posit any possible relationship between her and Damoth. The case remains officially unsolved.

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