WA SNOHOMISH COUNTY JANE DOE: WF, 15-22, found in woods near Everett, WA - 14 Aug 1977 *ELIZABETH "LISA" ROBERTS*


516UFWA - Unidentified Female
Reconstruction by Carl Koppelman

Artistic renderings by Natalie Murry and Carl Koppelman, sketch, reconstruction (1992), and original sketch of the victim; Enhanced images of clothing and watch.

Date of Discovery: August 14, 1977
Location of Discovery: Everett, Snohomish County, Washington
Estimated Date of Death: 5 days prior
State of Remains: Not recognizable - Decomposing/putrefaction
Cause of Death: Homicide by gunshot wound to the head

Physical Description
Estimated Age: 15-21 years old
Race: White
Gender: Female
Height: 5'10", Measured
Weight: 155, Estimated
Hair Color: Light brown, short. No evidence of color treatment.
Eye Color: Unknown
Distinguishing Marks/Features: Appeared to have a suntan. No unusual scars or tattoos.

Dentals: Available. Her teeth were in good condition. The upper two front teeth had dental restorations.
Fingerprints: Available
DNA: Available

Clothing & Personal Items
Clothing: A tank top with white, blue, green, and pink pastel stripes, cut off blue jeans, pink panties and blue and white Mr. Sneaker tennis shoes (men's size 7). She had no purse or identifying papers in her pockets.
Jewelry: A Timex watch with a yellow metal face and a brown leather band worn on her left wrist.
Additional Personal Items: Pack of Marlboro cigarettes.

Circumstances of Discovery
Blackberry pickers searching through woods, 1.5 blocks off of Emander Road on 113th Street near Paine Field, found the victim's partially decomposed body.

As the body was discovered, 22-year-old David Marvin Roth was picked up by Gold Bar police on a weapons charge. An informant told police Roth had described picking up a hitchhiker days before and drinking beer with her. She told him she lived with two men. As they went into the woods, the victim resisted his advances and he strangled her with an elastic cord and shot her in the head seven times.

Police matched slugs found in the woman's head to Roth's .22-caliber rifle. He was convicted in 1979 and served 26 years in prison. He did not know the victim's name.

Investigating Agency(s)
Agency Name: Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office
Agency Contact Person: Deborah Hollis
Agency Phone Number: 425-438-6200
Agency E-Mail: deborah.hollis(at)co.snohomish.wa.us
Agency Case Number: 08SN0977

Agency Name: Snohomish County Sheriff's Office
Agency Contact Person: N/A
Agency Phone Number: 425-388-3523
Agency E-Mail: N/A
Agency Case Number: 77-17073

NCIC Case Number: U579855433
NamUs Case Number: 2128
NCMEC Case Number: 1102164
Former Hot Case Number" 952

Information Source(s)
The Seattle Times News Archive
Seattle PI News Archive

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Staff member
BREAKING: Nearly 43 Years Later, Detectives Identify Precious Jane Doe, Victim of 1977 Murder in Everett


EVERETT, Wash. – After nearly 43 years of working to identify Precious Jane Doe, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit, Cold Case Team and the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office have positively identified her. She was born in 1959 as Elizabeth Ann Elder in Hood River, Oregon. She was adopted around the age of two and named Elizabeth Ann Roberts. She went by Lisa Roberts.

Lisa was raised by her parents in Roseburg, Oregon. On July 25, 1977 her father reported 17 year-old Lisa as a runaway to Roseburg Police Department. Lisa called home from Everett, Washington a couple of weeks after she ran away and asked her parents for money. They begged her to come home and she said she would think about it. Her parents sent her money to Seafirst Bank in Everett, however, it was never picked up. Lisa was murdered 15 days after she left home on August 9, 1977, and her body was discovered five days later on August 14, 1977.

Successful identification of Lisa was established using SNP DNA and Investigative Genetic Genealogy. The DNA used for the identification was obtained from Lisa’s hair using a new scientific technique developed by Dr. Ed Green, a scientist of ancient DNA and paleogenomics. This new technique, previously thought to be impossible, enables DNA-based forensics from rootless hair and other difficult sources.

Through Investigative Genetic Genealogy in the hands of Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter and her Firebird Forensic Group and using public genetic genealogy websites, they were able to build a family tree to identify the biological parents. Further investigation found a biological half-brother, whose DNA was used to verify he matched to Lisa’s maternal DNA profile. Adoption records were then obtained from the Oregon Health Authority. Based on all this new information, Snohomish County Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Matt Lacy established the positive identification of Elizabeth Ann Roberts. “We are grateful to Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter and her Firebird Forensics Group for the effort and hundreds of hours that they donated solving this case for us. Lisa would not be identified today if not for the work they did,” said Dr. Lacy.

During the murder investigation in 1977, detectives learned Precious Jane Doe was hitchhiking near Silver Lake on August 9, 1977. She was picked up by David Roth who wanted to go swimming at the lake. Instead, he gave her a ride and asked her to have sex. When she declined, he strangled her and shot her seven times in the head. Her body was found five days later by residents picking blackberries in the 11300 block of 4th Avenue West in unincorporated south Everett. She was unrecognizable. Roth confessed to the murder and was sentenced to 26 years in prison. The remains were thought to be that of a 25 to 35 year old woman. Detective John Hinds drew a composite sketch of what she should look like, but no one could identify her. For an unknown reason, she was no longer listed as missing in NCIC.

Extensive efforts began again in 2008 to identify her body after the Doe Network inquired about the case. Investigators exhumed the body and she was examined by Dr. Kathy Taylor, the State Forensic Anthropologist with the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. Her examination revealed that the remains were more likely that of a teenage girl, age 16 to 19. That got the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children involved to assist. Forensic Artist Natalie Murry provided an updated composite sketch. Detectives were never able to identify the female, who was named Precious Jane Doe by Detective Jim Scharf.

“This young girl was precious to me because her moral decision from her proper upbringing cost her her life,” said lead Detective Jim Scharf. “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.” Detective Scharf worked on this case for 12 years and Snohomish County Medical Examiner Lead Medical Investigator Jane Jorgensen worked on it for the past three years. After hundreds of hours of investigative teamwork by many volunteers and extensive advancements in DNA science, Precious Jane Doe has finally been identified.

On June 16, 2020, Detective Scharf received the phone call he has been waiting many years for. The Oregon Health Authority Vital Records confirmed Precious Jane Doe was adopted in Oregon and renamed Elizabeth Ann Roberts.

Detective Scharf contacted her family and made the sad notification. He learned that she went by “Lisa.” Lisa’s sister, Tonya, who was only 10 years old when Lisa ran away said, “I looked up to Lisa as my big sister, who would spend time with me and play with me downstairs. We had a really good bond because we were both adopted.” Arrangements are currently being made for Lisa’s memorial service and her remains will be buried in a family plot in Hood River, Oregon.

“I am so proud and so thankful for the incredible work and dedication by Detective Jim Scharf and all of our partners and investigators who made this possible,” said Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney. “For years Detective Scharf has had Precious Jane Doe’s story linked in his email signature trying to identify her. Although it wasn’t the answer anyone wished for, Precious Jane Doe finally has her name back, and she can now be returned to her family and loved ones.”



Staff member
Solved: For 43 years, she was ‘Precious’ Jane Doe

She was 400 miles from home when she called her mother for the last time. She was still a girl, just barely, at 17½.

High school classmates knew her as Lisa before she ran away from Roseburg, Oregon, in the summer 1977. On the phone from Everett, she asked her mom to send money. Her parents pleaded with her to come home, and Lisa said she’d think about it. They sent a check to a branch of Seafirst Bank. Lisa never picked it up.

For the next 43 years, her identity was lost, obliterated by a killer who told police he didn’t bother to get her name.

Her identity evaded police, and evaded police, and evaded police. Twice as long as she was alive, Snohomish County investigators knew her as Jane Doe, or Precious Jane Doe, as detective Jim Scharf began calling her when he took on the case in 2008.

Finally, this month, investigators working with a pro bono team of 16 genealogists unearthed her name — Lisa Roberts — as well as basic facts about her life. It’s one of the first cold cases in the world solved with DNA extracted from hair, and it’s the oldest case of unidentified remains solved with forensic genealogy in Snohomish County.

Her name was announced Friday by the sheriff’s office.

Lisa was reported missing from Roseburg on July 25, 1977. She was supposed to come home from hanging out with friends by 11 p.m. She didn’t leave a note to say where she was going or why she left. According to her father’s report to police, it didn’t appear she had taken much with her, if anything, Scharf said. The missing person report was entered into NCIC, a national database kept by the FBI. But the same day, her name was removed without explanation. All these years, detectives had suspected they were chasing something that wasn’t there.


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Staff member
Why in the world weren't they able to identify her before now? She was found deceased soon after she was reported as a runaway! I don't get it!

So frustrating! She was reported missing. Her parents KNEW she was in the Everett area. She was killed and found 2 & 3 weeks later...

Yet...her missing persons report was DELETED FROM THE SYSTEM the same day she was reported. That seems to be common practice for runaways at that time. But still extremely negligent. And why it's so important for families with missing loved ones from that time to check to make sure they are still in the system.

Would her parents have seen this news in the 70s? How heavily would it have been publicized in Oregon that someone was found in Washington?


aka Grandma Kim 💕
Staff member
So frustrating! She was reported missing. Her parents KNEW she was in the Everett area. She was killed and found 2 & 3 weeks later...

Yet...her missing persons report was DELETED FROM THE SYSTEM the same day she was reported. That seems to be common practice for runaways at that time. But still extremely negligent. And why it's so important for families with missing loved ones from that time to check to make sure they are still in the system.

Would her parents have seen this news in the 70s? How heavily would it have been publicized in Oregon that someone was found in Washington?
Those are really good questions! It just seems so crazy with as "well known" Lisa has been in the doe community boards.

The Coffeenator

Well-known member
It seems like LE's in the fault here. They failed Lisa and her family miserably. They had all this information at their hand, and yet failed to see that the two cases were connected. Jim Scharf is the silver lining here. For as long as I've been following this case, he's been utterly dedicated to having Precious identified, and I can't imagine what went through his head when he was told that she finally had her name back.

Would her parents have seen this news in the 70s? How heavily would it have been publicized in Oregon that someone was found in Washington?
I strongly doubt it. UID cases barely made it out of the local newspaper back then if they were even printed, and even then, they often only got a tiny column or so. Heck, UID cases barely make a dent in the news today, social media and all! It's really frustrating.


Staff member
LE is definitely at fault here. It's straight-up negligence the way that missing teens/adults cases were handled then.

I know her parents knew she was in Everett. But did they report this to police? I doubt it, since LE wouldn't have even had a case report at that time. They may not have been able to make the connection right away, but had her case report not been deleted, the connection would have been made sooner, rather than 43 years later.

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