For anyone that believes life was more pleasant before technology, let this case serve as a reminder that the world was terrifying before the internet and Caller ID. It takes work to remain anonymous these days; just a few decades ago, all you had to do was pick up a phone book to start an untraceable reign of terror.
In 1980, Dorothy Jane Scott was a 32-year-old single mother living in Stanton, California, when she started receiving eerie calls from an unknown male. The stranger told Scott that he loved her and had been following her, even listing accurate details of her day. Scott told her mother that the voice seemed familiar, but she couldn’t put her finger on how she recognized it.
The calls occurred over several months, eventually leading to threats of murder and at least one occasion where the man came to her home. The stalker called Scott and told her to go outside because he had something for her. She cautiously ventured out and found a single dead rose on the windshield of her car.
On the evening of May 28, 1980, Scott attended a work meeting. Glancing around the room, she noticed one of her co-workers, Conrad Bostron, didn’t look well. She and another co-worker, Pam Head, intervened and took Bostron to the hospital.
Once they arrived at UC Irvine Medical Center, it was determined that Bostron had suffered a bite from a black widow spider. He was treated and discharged around 11:00 PM. As the group was leaving, Scott offered to run ahead and bring her car to the entrance so the others didn’t have to walk far. Head stayed with Bostron as he got his prescription filled and went to the restroom, then the duo waited outside the E.R. for Scott.
After several minutes, they grew concerned that she still hadn’t arrived. As they began walking to the parking lot to look for her, Scott’s car came speeding toward them. They were blinded by high beams as they tried to get her attention, but the car went barreling past them and turned out of the parking lot.
Cell phones weren’t commonplace in those days, so Head and Bostron initially weren’t sure how to proceed. Had she used a pay phone to check on her 4-year-old son before leaving? Her co-workers thought perhaps there had been an emergency, so they sat stranded for nearly two hours before alerting UCI police.
University police weren’t overly concerned with the dramatic exit, so Head contacted Scott’s mother to check on her. She quickly learned that Scott still hadn’t picked up her son or made contact with her family. At 4:30 AM on May 29, Scott’s abandoned car was found on fire in an alleyway 10 miles from the hospital.
Less than two weeks later, the phone calls started back up. Mrs. Scott answered the phone at her residence and the caller asked, “Are you related to Dorothy Scott? Well, I’ve got her.” The Scott’s received these calls nearly every Wednesday for years after their daughter went missing. Often, the caller would ask if Dorothy was home. Other times, he would simply state that he had killed her. Law enforcement was unable to trace the calls because the man never stayed on the line long enough.
The Scott’s weren’t the only ones contacted by the killer. In June of 1980, the Orange County Register ran a story about Scott’s disappearance. The following day, they received a call from the unknown man. According to the managing editor, he said, “I killed her. I killed Dorothy Scott. She was my love. I caught her cheating with another man. She denied having someone else. I killed her.” He also mentioned specific details from that night, such as the color of Scott’s scarf and Bostron’s spider bite.
Scott’s friends and family denied the possibility of a serious relationship. While they say she occasionally dated, it would have been hard for her to have an ongoing boyfriend without anyone noticing. Scott worked often, during which time her parents babysat her son. Friends and coworkers claimed that when Scott wasn’t working she was almost always home with her son.
According to Scott’s parents, the last call she ever received really shook her up. The man had told her, “When I get you alone, I will cut you up into bits so no one will ever find you.” As years passed by, the possibility of never finding Dorothy Scott grew.
Until August 6, 1984 when construction workers found charred human remains near Santa Ana Canyon Road. A bushfire had damaged much of the surrounding area in 1982 and authorities believed that to be the cause of the charring. But they also found a turquoise ring and a watch. The time on the watch was 12:30 AM on May 29, about an hour after Scott was last seen. Dental records positively matched the skeletal remains to Dorothy Jane Scott but they weren’t able to identify a cause of death.
Mr. Scott passed away in 1994 followed by Mrs. Scott in 2002 without ever knowing the true fate of their daughter. Scott’s son, Shawn, is still working to find the identity of his mother’s killer and bring her justice.