In the fall of 1970, or maybe the spring of 1971 — it’s not clear — Annie Lehman ran away from her Aberdeen home. She would have been around 16 or 17.
Less than a year later, in August of 1971, the skeletal remains of a young woman were found near Cave Junction, Ore. The timing of Annie Lehman’s disappearance from Aberdeen and the age, size and hair color of the young woman in Oregon, have Josephine County, Ore., detectives trying to determine whether the “Jane Doe” remains they’ve had in storage the past 47 years are those of Annie Lehman.
Detective Ken Selig of the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office is hoping that friends, classmates or anyone who knew her will see the photo of Annie – Anne Marie Lehman was her full name – and remember her from her days on Grays Harbor. “My goal is to find people who knew her to see if they recall her association with anyone else who helped her.”
Selig was in Washington recently to collect a DNA sample from Lehman’s sister Virginia, who would be six years older than Annie and no longer lives on Grays Harbor. He hopes to have results in a matter of weeks.
Selig considers this a good lead, but investigators have been at this stage before, virtually certain they had an identity for the remains, only to have the DNA match fail. But that time, they were trying to match their Jane Doe’s DNA with that of a male from Massachusetts who was related to a missing person there. Trying to match with a sister will be easier — if they are related.
Annie Lehman’s parents, Norma and Albert, both died in the 1990s. The mother had been from England originally. Annie’s brother Allen, who was about four years older, is also deceased.
Selig said stories he has pieced together indicate Annie’s father had a serious alcohol problem and her home life was bad. The sister told Selig that she came home one day to find Annie packing to leave. Virginia asked where she was going. “With her,” Annie said, and motioned to a slightly older woman who was there.
The story gets even fuzzier after that, but Selig said Virginia told him that a relative tracked the woman down and was told that Annie had been sold into the sex trade and possibly taken to San Francisco. And there was talk of a man from McCleary who may have been an associate of the woman Annie left with.
The young woman found in southern Oregon was carrying a map of northern California campgrounds and 38 cents in her pocket. An ornate ring found with the body had a mother of pearl face that was strangely scratched with the letters “AL.”
The victim in Oregon is believed to have been about 125 pounds and from 14 to 25 years old when she died. She was 5-foot, 4-inches tall and her hair was red or auburn, dyed with blond streaks. She wore a checked pink and beige waist-length coat and size 13-14 misses slim jeans.
Annie Lehman was 5-feet, 5 inches tall and about 120 pounds. She had dark brown hair with reddish highlights.
“Her profile matches the one down here pretty good,” Selig said.
Selig is asking anyone in the Grays Harbor area who remembers Annie Lehman to contact him by calling the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office in Grants Pass, Ore., at 541-474-5123 and refer to the Jane “Annie” Doe case No. 71-940.