On The Case With Paula Zahn is investigating the unsolved murder of Tammy Jo Alexander, who was found dead in rural New York State in 1979.
On November 10, 1979, a farmer came across the remains of an unidentified young woman lying in a cornfield near New York State Route 20 in Caledonia, NY. The police determined that she had been shot once in the head before being dragged into the cornfield, where she was shot a second time in the back.
The victim remained unidentified for an incredible 35 years. In the meantime, she became known as Cali-doe or Caledonian Jane Doe. She was buried in nearby Dansville with “Unidentified Girl” written on her headstone.
Unfortunately, investigators have been unable to identify the killer. Their task was hampered by a heavy rainfall on the night she died, which washed away much of the forensic evidence.
The investigators’ job was further worsened by their lack of knowledge about the victim. The tan lines on her body combined with a pollen analysis of her clothing suggested she was from a southern state, such as Florida, Arizona, or southern California. Still, there was little else for them to go on.
DNA finally identified Tammy Jo Alexander
However, advances in forensic science allowed the police to finally put a name to the body. In 2015, they learned through DNA analysis that she was Tammy Jo Alexander from Brooksville, Florida. She had run away from home in 1979 and had been only 16 years old when she was murdered.
The investigators were aided by Tammy’s old high school friend and her half-sister, who had the search for Tammy reopened 35 years after she’d vanished. Tammy’s half-sister had provided the DNA sample that led to her identification.
Sadly, the police are yet to find Tammy’s killer. They have followed up on thousands of leads, but so far, all to no avail. In 1984, serial killer Henry Lee Lucas actually confessed to the murder. But the police concluded that he was lying.
Another serial killer, Christopher Wilder, was also a suspect in the crime. He is known to have abducted and raped numerous women, and he murdered eight of his victims. However, he was shot dead by the police in 1984 before he could be questioned about Tammy’s murder.
The FBI is currently offering an award of $20,000 for any information that leads to a conviction of the individual responsible for the murder.
More from On The Case With Paula Zahn
Follow the links to read about more heinous murders examined by investigative journalist Paula Zahn.
Randy Baker was murdered by multiple members of his own family. His wife, Kelly Baker, and his sister, Carol Baker, with instrumental in planning the murder. Their motive appears to have been solely financial gain.
Nelson Armas had an argument with his five-month pregnant Hannah Zehner Brim, which resulted in him stabbing her to death. He dismembered and set far to her remains before dumping her in a secluded wooded area.
On The Case With Paula Zahn airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.