On June 3, 1993 a trucker stopping to relieve himself discovered the body of a female in a turnout on westbound State Route 152 (the Pacheco Pass highway) near Gilroy, California. The manner of death was homicide by strangulation and the body appeared to have been dumped. Forensic scientists determined the woman to be white, possibly Hispanic, 5’3, and weighing 130 lbs. Her attire was that of a typical homeless, transient person. The deceased is believed to be the victim of Keith Hunter Jesperson, the Happy Face Killer, who confessed to her murder and received a life sentence for the crime. Jesperson, currently serving four consecutive life sentences, claimed her name was “Carla” or “Cindy”.
Date Body Found: June 3, 1993
Estimated Age: 30-40
Estimated PMI: Weeks
Location: Santa Clara County, CA
Agency of Jurisdiction
Santa Clara County Sheriffs Department
Detective Ron Breuss
Link to More Information
The DNA Doe Project, in partnership with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office, identified a woman found near westbound State Route 152 near Gilroy, California as Patricia Skiple. Known as Patty or Patsy, Ms. Skiple was born May 29, 1948 and raised in Colton, Oregon.
Serial killer Keith Hunter Jesperson, the Happy Face Killer, confessed to her murder along with the strangulation killings of 7 other women between 1990 and 1994. He’s currently serving four life sentences without the possibility of parole in the Oregon State Penitentiary.
Sergeant Shannon Catalano of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office brought the case to the DNA Doe Project in 2019, hoping that investigative genetic genealogy could be used to identify her. Volunteers with the DNA Doe Project started work researching the genetic matches to the Pacheco Jane Doe in December, 2019, finally arriving at a likely candidate in 2021. The identity was recently confirmed through DNA testing.
“This case was exceptionally challenging due to recent Norwegian ancestry which resulted in very distant DNA matches on GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA,” said DNA Doe Project team leader Cairenn Binder. “ It would not have been possible to solve this case without the dedication of our law enforcement partners at Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, especially Sergeant Shannon Catalano, whose tenacious efforts to solve the case made our job as genealogists as effective as possible.”
Sergeant Catalano made the most of the information discovered through genealogy, contacting potential family members and encouraging them to voluntarily upload their DNA profiles to GEDmatch, a public DNA database that can be used for forensic cases.
“We thank the voluntary DNA testers who tested and/or uploaded to GEDmatch in order to assist us in solving this case,” said team leader Harmony Bronson. “Every single DNA match made a difference in this difficult case.”
Please visit our website, dnadoeproject.org, to learn more about how to upload your profile to GEDmatch – your DNA could help solve criminal cases and bring Jane and John Does back to their families and communities.
The DNA Doe Project wishes to acknowledge the contributions of the groups and individuals who helped solve this case: the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, who entrusted the case to the DNA Doe Project; HudsonAlpha Discovery for whole genome sequencing; Greg Magoon for bioinformatics; GEDmatch Pro and FTDNA for providing their databases; and DDP’s dedicated teams of volunteer investigative genetic genealogists who work tirelessly to bring victims home.
Last Updated: April 18, 2022