Ventura Co Jane Doe

Ventura County Jane Doe

On July 18, 1980, at 12:40 PM, Ventura County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a report and found a young woman dead in the parking lot of Westlake High School. Evidence at the scene suggested that the victim may have been killed elsewhere and her body moved to the parking lot. An autopsy determined the victim died as a result of multiple stab wounds, but she had also been raped and strangled. A forensic anthropologist determined the young woman was Hispanic and/or Native American, age 15 – 25 years, 5′ 2, 110 – 115 lbs, brown eyes, and black shoulder length hair with bleached tips. She had extensive dental work and was 4 months pregnant with evidence of prior pregnancy(s). She wore white pullover short sleeve top, black bra, red corduroy pants, and black high heeled open toed shoes. In 2015, DNA results from scrapings of Venture Jane Doe’s fingernails was used to convict serial killer Wilson Chouest of her murder, but not her unborn daughter.

Agency of Jurisdiction
Ventura County Sheriff’s Office-Major Crimes Investigations
Albert Ramirez and Araseli Ruiz-Acevedo, Detectives

Links to More Information

DDP Status
Research in progress.

Image Credit: Carl Koppelman

DNA Doe Project Case Updates:

2023 Update:

The investigative genetic genealogists working on Ventura County Jane Doe are appealing for the public’s help. If you or someone you know has ancestors from the state of  Zacatecas in Mexico, please review new information about this Jane Doe:

In our previous informational release, we indicated that one parent of our Jane Doe (herein named “Parent 1”) was very likely to be a descendant of a couple – Ponciano Montellano (born abt 1823) and Feliciana Rojas (abt 1824 – 1894), who lived in the small community known as La Blanca, or Bajío de la Tesorera (now known as General Pánfilo Natera) in the Mexican state of Zacatecas. Ponciano and Feliciana had six daughters and one son.

Since then, we have narrowed down our focus to one daughter – Catarina Montellano (1853-1895), and her husband Martin Parga (abt 1847-1902) as direct ancestors of “Parent 1”. Martin Parga was the son of Aniceto Parga (1816-1847) and Maria De Jesus Lira (1815-1896). Several of our matches are descendants of Aniceto and Maria Jesus by way of multiple ancestral lines. And It is very likely that both of our Jane Doe’s parents were descendants of Aniceto Parga and Maria de Jesus Lira.

Martin and Catarina had 14 children, three who died in infancy. The remaining 11 include 3 sons (Ricardo, Martin, and Bruno), and 8 daughters (Monica, Basilia, Guadalupe, Feliciana, Tomasa, Josefa, Bernardina, and Sotera).   

We have located descendants of Tomasa, Guadalupe, and Bernardina living in the Los Angeles area, but none of these persons are aware of a missing family member. These three sisters, and the three brothers Ricardo, Martin, and Bruno are considered to be unlikely to be the direct ancestor of “Parent 1”.

Of the remaining five sisters:

We know that Feliciana had at least two children who survived past childhood – Daniel Lopez (b. 1906) and Barbara Lira de Espinoza (b. 1923). She also had a daughter Angela Parga (b. 1907); however, we have no information pertaining to Angela other than her birth record. Daniel and Barbara lived in the Mexican State of Chihuahua and had families there. We have been unable to locate any of Feliciana’s living descendants.      

Josefa was a twin sister of Tomasa, both born in 1880. Monica and Basilia have the same date of birth in 1869, but there is no indication in their birth records that they were twins. They might be one child whose birth was mistakenly registered twice under two different names. Sotera was born in 1890, and both of her parents had passed away by the time she was 12 years old. Other than their birth records we can find no records from the later lives of Monica, Basilia, Josefa, or Sotera. 

From our research we have observed that there is a large community of persons closely related to Ventura Jane Doe living in the neighborhoods surrounding the Belvedere and Boyle Heights districts of East Los Angeles, who have ancestral roots in General Pánfilo Natera, Zacatecas, and have the same surnames of her closest known relatives (Parga, Lira, Aleman, Betancourt, Chavez, Chairez, Ramos, Ortiz, Ibarra, et. al.).

We are asking anyone who has any information about the five Parga Sisters born in the 1800s  – Monica, Basilia, Feliciana, Josefa, or Sotera, or their spouses/partners or descendants, to please contact us at [email protected] with the subject “Ventura”.

Partial family tree for Ventura Jane Doe.

Ventura Jane Doe’s family tree on the Parent 1 side.

2021 Update:
We have been diligently working on this case for over two years. Due to the lack of close matches and endogamy in the ancestral trees of her DNA cousins and complications related to tracing the migration of persons from Mexico to the United States we still haven’t identified her immediate family.

Our team has had some success in identifying common ancestors between Ventura County Jane Doe, and her DNA cousins. Although we have found connections, and possible surnames and geographic locations of interest, these DNA cousins are very distant, and therefore we still haven’t been able to reach her identity. This is where you can help! Please Share and upload and opt-in at and FTDNA

Our previous update on this case focused on the following five regions of interest, from where different lines of her ancestry originate:

* Southern Texas and Northeastern Mexico (The Mexican states of Coahuila, Tamaulipas, and Nuevo Leon)
*Central Mexico (The Mexican States of Zacatecas, Guanajuato, and San Luis Potosí),
* Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado,
* Indigenous California
* Guatemala
She may have also had a more distant connection to England, Ireland, and/or French Canada.
We believe that the father of her unborn child is from Choluteca, Honduras, and either he or one of his biological parents have the surname Baca,
One area where we have made significant progress is her ancestral connection to the Mexican state of Zacatecas (in our Central Mexico cluster). We strongly believe that one line of her ancestry originates from the small community of La Blanca, Bajio de la Tesorera (in a city now named General Pánfilo Natera). We believe that two of her direct ancestors are a couple named Ponciano Montellano (born about 1823) and Feliciana Rojas (born about 1824). Ponciano and Feliciana had six daughters (Paula, Martina, Maria Refugio, Catarina, Albina, and Antonia) and one son (Gabriel). Several of their descendants have migrated to the United States, particularly in the El Paso Texas, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Southern California areas. Martina Montellano-Solis died in 1861 during childbirth of her only child – a daughter named Bernardina.
Some common surnames among other descendants of the Montellano family who have migrated to the United States are: Aleman, Alvarez (or Alvarado), Arizmendi, Betancourt, Campos, Cuevas, Hernandez, Lara, Lira, Ortiz, Parga, Payan, Ramirez, Salazar, Sustayta, and Villareal.

As of May 5, 2021 we have a couple of matches greater than 100 cM. Those matches have extremely endogamous families and are likely 4th cousins or more distant.

Links to More Information:

For more information on the DNA Doe Project and our other cases, visit our website:

For more information and help on uploading to GEDmatch:

Actualización de un Caso del DNA Doe Project: Ventura County Jane Doe – Westlake Village, California (1980)

Hemos trabajado diligentemente en este caso durante más de dos años. Sin embargo, debido a una falta de coincidencias de ADN cercanas y la dificultad de rastrear las migraciones desde México hacia los Estados Unidos, aún no hemos podido identificar su familia cercana.

Nuestro equipo ha tenido cierto éxito identificando ancestros comunes entre la Jane Doe de Ventura County y sus primos de ADN. Sin embargo, aunque hemos identificado apellidos y localidades de interés, estos pertenecen a primos muy lejanos y no hemos podido identificar a Jane Doe de Ventura County. ¡Así que pedimos su ayuda! Por favor, comparta esta mensaje, suba y “opt in” su prueba ADN a y FamilyTreeDNA.

Nuestra actualización previa nombró cinco regiones de interés donde ella parece tener ancestros:

Sur de Tejas (entre San Antonio y Brownsville) y Noreste de México (estados de Coahuila, Tamaulipas, y Nuevo León)

* Centro de México (estados de Zacatecas, Guanajuato, y San Luis Potosí)

* Norte de Nuevo México y Sur de Colorado

* California Indígena

* Guatemala

Es posible que ella tenía una conexión distante a un ancestro de Inglaterra, Irlanda o Canadá-francesa.

Creemos que el padre de su hijo por nacer es de Choluteca, Honduras, y él o uno de sus padres biológicos puede tener el apellido Baca.

Un área en la que hemos logrado progreso significativo es en su conexión ancestral con el estado mexicano de Zacatecas (en nuestro grupo de México Central). Creemos que una línea de su familia origina en la pequeña comunidad de La Blanca, Bajío de la Tesorera (en una ciudad que ahora se llama General Pánfilo Natera). Creemos que dos de sus antepasados directos son una pareja llamada Ponciano Montellano (nacida alrededor de 1823) y Feliciana Rojas (nacida alrededor de 1824). Ponciano y Feliciana tuvieron seis hijas (Paula, Martina, María Refugio, Catarina, Albina y Antonia) y un hijo (Gabriel). Varios de sus descendientes han emigrado a los Estados Unidos, particularmente a las áreas de El Paso, Texas; Arizona; Colorado; Nuevo México y el sur de California. Martina Montellano-Solis murió en 1861 durante el parto de su única hija, Bernardina.

Algunos apellidos comunes entre otros descendientes de la familia Montellano que migraron a los Estados Unidos incluyen: Alemán, Álvarez (o Alvarado), Arizmendi, Betancourt, Campos, Cuevas, Hernández, Lara, Lira, Ortiz, Parga, Payan, Ramírez, Salazar, Sustayta y Villareal.

Hasta el 5 de mayo de 2021, tenemos un par de coincidencias de ADN superiores a los 100 cM. Esos coincidencias de ADN tienen familias extremadamente endogámicas y probablemente son primos cuartos o más distantes.

Para obtener más información sobre este caso:

Para obtener más información sobre The DNA Doe Project

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Links to Ventura Jane Doe Articles

Last Updated: December 15, 2023

Posted on

October 14, 2018