Slain Mothers Remain Unidentified Decades After Stabbings - NBC Southern California

Slain Mothers Remain Unidentified Decades After Stabbings

Investigators released photos in an effort to identify the two victims in the 1980 slayings

Slain Mothers Remain Unidentified Decades After Stabbings
Ventura County Jane Doe, left, and Kern County Jane Doe went missing and were found murdererd in July 1980.

What to Know

  • Two women found stabbed in 1980 have yet to be identified

  • Authorities say DNA linked Wilson Chouest to the crimes

  • Chouest faces life in prison without parole in connection with the murders

Authorities say DNA links a suspect to two women and an unborn baby fatally stabbed decades ago, but a big mystery remains -- police have yet to identify the slain women.

Deputies found the partially nude body of a woman dubbed "Ventura County Jane Doe" on July 18, 1980 in the parking lot of Westlake High School in Westlake Village.

She had been raped, stabbed and strangled to death before being dumped in the school's parking lot. She was five months pregnant with a son. He was also killed.

Murdered and ForgottenMurdered and Forgotten

Two women were raped and murdered in separate crimes in 1980 and investigators as seeking the public's help to identify them. NBC4 sister station KGET reports.

 
(Published Tuesday, May 29, 2018)

In 2015 authorities got a DNA hit that matched Wilson Chouest and a woman whose body was found in an almond orchard in Kern County three days before Ventura County Jane Doe was found dead. She was dubbed "Kern County Jane Doe."

Both had been stabbed at least 19 times, said Steve Rhods, a cold-case investigator in Ventura County.

Women Remain Unidentified Nearly 40 Years After SlayingsWomen Remain Unidentified Nearly 40 Years After Slayings

At the time, Chouest was serving a life sentence in state prison for the kidnap, robbery, and rape of a woman, and kidnap and robbery of a second woman in August and September 1980 at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia. He abducted two women, robbed one and raped the second one. Four weeks later, police caught Chouest during a stakeout of the college. He was convicted and sentenced the next year.

In a prison interview in 2014 with Ventura County investigators, he denied knowing the women, Rhods said. In 2016 Chouest was arrested on murder charges in connection with the two unidentified women and an unborn baby. Jurors could soon decide whether he will serve a life sentence in prison without parole during his trial this week in Ventura.

"There's somebody out there whose daughter, mother, sister didn't come home," Rhods said. "They don't deserve to be laying in a Potter's field. We need to send them home."

"Ventura County Jane Doe" was described as Hispanic or Native American, between 20 and 30 years old, 5 foot 2, and weighed about 115 pounds. The case went cold until advances in DNA helped link a suspect to her murder, officials said.

"Kern County Jane Doe" was also Hispanic or Native American, between 25 and 35 years old, 5 foot 3, and weighed 115 pounds. She was possibly known as "Rebecca Ochoa" or "Becky." She had a prosthetic leg and tattoos on her arms that read, "Shirley," "Mother I love you," and "Seattle."

Anyone with information was asked to email tips to the Cold Case Unit at coldcase.187@ventura.org. For more details and a timeline, go to NBC4 sister station KGET.

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