“She was deprived of so many life experiences as a result of this tragedy," the family said.
On November 1, 1980, a teenage girl's body was discovered off of I-45 just outside of Huntsville. While the cause of her death was revealed to be asphyxiation as she was strangled to death, her identity remained a mystery, according to KAGS. At the time, detectives interviewed inmates and employees at the prison and spoke with authorities in Rockport, but no one knew who the girl was.
For 41 years, no one had any idea who the teen was, and she was referred to as "Walker County Jane Doe."
However, by the end of September 2021, the Walker County Sheriff's Office announced that they had identified the victim as Sherri Ann Jarvis. According to NBC News, Jarvis was 14 when she showed up at a Huntsville truck stop during Halloween in 1980. There, she asked for directions to the Ellis Unit prison, Walker County Sheriff Clint McRae said during a news conference.
Othram is honored to assist the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Rangers, and the Houston FBI in identifying Walker County Jane Doe, now known as 14-year-old Sherri Ann Jarvis.#dnasolves #runtheDNAhttps://t.co/jV7hB3aSHz— Othram Inc. (@OthramTech) November 9, 2021
She said she was from the Rockport area, however, authorities said she is from Stillwater, Minnesota.
In a bid to identify her, Walker County investigators began working with Othram, a company that specializes in analyzing DNA from trace or degraded samples. Using tissue samples from Jane Doe’s autopsy, they were able to find six relatives, McRae said. Officials got in touch with five of her relatives who identified her and revealed that she ran away in 1980.
They also said that Sherri had been removed from her home by the state of Minnesota because she was frequently absent from school. Not much is known about how Sherri ended up outside of Texas as the records from the state of Minnesota have since been purged.
For years, the grave site of 14-year old Sherri Ann Jarvis has had the name “Unknown White Female.”— Austin Walker TV (@AustinCWalker) November 9, 2021
Today, a family gets a small bit of closure knowing where their missing loved one died. New flowers have been put out. @25NewsKXXV pic.twitter.com/KxbjepTtaE
In a statement read at the news conference, Jarvis’ family thanked the people who worked to find her. “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,” the family said. "Sherri never returned to our home,” the statement said.
“Sherri Ann Jarvis was a daughter, sister, cousin, and granddaughter. She loved children, animals, and horseback riding,” the family said. “She was deprived of so many life experiences as a result of this tragedy.”
The family also added that Jarvis’ parents died before they got a chance to find out what had happened to her. “We love and miss Sherri very much. You are with mom and dad now, Sherri, may you rest in peace,” the family said.
#FBIHouston joined the Walker County Sheriff's Office at a news conference today to announce that a 1980 murder victim has been identified through DNA as Sherri Ann Jarvis. Sherri was a 14 year-old runaway from Minnesota. Her body was found in November 1980 in Huntsville. #BCSTX pic.twitter.com/MBKfFyLejB— FBI Houston (@FBIHouston) November 9, 2021
Investigators will now focus on finding her killer. “I know we like to refer this case as being a cold case,” McRae said Tuesday. But “it has always been a top priority — we loved her, as well.”
Cover Image Source: Twitter | FBI Houston (@FBIHouston)