Detectives identify victim in 41-year-old Texas murder mystery

Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 10:03 PM EST
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HUNTSVILLE, Texas (KBTX/Gray News) - Investigators in a Texas county have identified a teenage murder victim more than four decades after she was found dead.

KBTX reports that Walker County detectives said the “Jane Doe” was identified as Sherri Ann Jarvin after an extensive investigation and DNA testing.

This comes 41 years after the teenage girl was found along Interstate 45 in November 1980 by a truck driver. She had been raped, strangled and left for dead at the age of 14.

Jarvis arrived in Huntsville on Oct. 31, 1980. Witnesses said they saw her at a truck stop where she asked for directions to get to a work farm. The next day around 9 a.m., she was found dead on the side of the road.

The Walker County Sheriff’s Office said in July 2020, Detective Thomas Bean, who has been assigned to the case since 2015, and other investigators sent samples to a lab to begin forensic DNA testing. In March 2021, six people were identified as being direct relatives or aunts and uncles of the “Jane Doe.”

Investigators used internet resources to fill out a family tree and interviewed her family members. They were able to discover that Jarvis was removed from her home in Stillwater, Minnesota for habitual truancy. Her family said she wrote a letter to them shortly after she was removed from the home that she would return.

The Walker County Sheriff’s Office said a suspect has not yet been identified and detectives will continue the investigation.

Composite sketch of Sherri Jarvis
Composite sketch of Sherri Jarvis(KBTX)

Jarvis’ family released a statement to the public:

We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Detective Thomas Bean and all cooperating agencies and people involved in identifying Sherri Ann Jarvis’ remains. We would also like to express our gratitude to Morris Memorials for donating Sherri’s headstone and all the people who visited her burial site throughout the years. We lost Sherri more than 41 years ago and we’ve lived in bewilderment every day since, until now as she has finally been found.

We contacted the Salvation Army and hired a private investigator in an attempt to locate her but to no avail. The dedication of the aforementioned people led to our reunion with Sherri and provided long awaited, albeit painful answers to our questions on her whereabouts. Sherri Ann Jarvis was a daughter, sister, cousin and granddaughter. She loved children, animals and horseback riding.

She was a tender 13 years of age when the state removed her from our home for habitual truancy. Sherri never returned to our home as promised in a letter we received from her shortly after her departure. She was deprived of so many life experiences as a result of this tragedy. She was denied the opportunity to experience romance and love, marital bliss, the heartache and pain of loss, the pure joy of having children or growing old and being able to reflect on such milestones afforded an abounding lifetime.

Our parents passed away never knowing what happened to her or having any form of closure but we are grateful that they never had to endure the pain of knowing her death was so brutal. We take a measure of comfort in knowing that she has been identified and where she is located so we may pay our respects at her final resting place. We will continue to support those seeking her killer(s) because she did not deserve the death she received and justice served to those who would commit such a heinous act would be fitting tribute to Sherri. We love and miss Sherri very much. You are with mom and dad now, Sherri, may you rest in peace.

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