JONES — In April 1980, a group of fishermen made a grisly discovery in the woods along the North Canadian River in eastern Oklahoma County.
A young woman had been shot to death and left in the brush on the eastern bank of the river, covered in a blanket of quicklime. In the nearly 34 years since then, investigators have given the woman a nickname — the Lime Lady. But they haven’t gotten much closer to finding out who the woman was or who killed her.
Capt. Bob Green, an investigator with the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, said the woman’s killers probably dumped quicklime over her body to speed up decomposition. But instead of decomposing the body, the lime preserved it. When investigators arrived, they found the body mummified, but mostly intact.
The quality of the body gave investigators a detailed look at what the woman looked like. She was 18 to 25 years old, about 5-foot-7 and 120 pounds. She was a slender woman with shoulder-length reddish brown hair, a fair complexion and freckles. She had irregular teeth with several areas where she had dental work done, and a scar from an appendectomy.
Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic on the woman’s body was a small heart-shaped tattoo above her left breast, Green said.
But despite the detailed description of her body, the sheriff’s office has had no luck finding out who the woman was. Investigators have followed several leads over the years. They’ve scoured missing persons databases and looked through dental records, but each time, they’ve come up empty.
Meanwhile, no one has ever come forward to claim the woman. That fact, by itself, is unusual.
“Usually, something will turn up,” Green said.
The area where the woman’s body was found could offer some clues about how she died and who killed her. Chief Deputy Carson Marshall said her body was found at the end of an out-of-the-way road just off Britton Road.
There was only one way in and out of the spot where the woman’s body was found, Marshall said. Fishermen sometimes drove down the road and walked to the river, he said, but it wasn’t easily visible from the road. Marshall, who was on the scene at the time the body was found, said that fact could mean the woman’s killers lived nearby.
“At that time, you’d have to know that road was there to drive down it,” Marshall said.
The woman died from three gunshot wounds to her chest, Green said. The three shots came from different ranges, as though the killer was walking toward her while firing, he said. The third shot was a contact wound, he said.
Green said he thinks the woman died in some other location, then her killers dumped her by the river. Investigators didn’t find any other evidence of the crime at the scene, he said, and her arms were splayed out backward as though she’d been dragged through the brush.
“It’s all speculation, but it seems to make sense to me,” he said.
Investigators have found a few other clues that could point to who killed her, Green said. The gun that killed the woman was a .45-caliber weapon — a favorite with outlaw biker gangs at the time, he said. Nearby Jones was home to a biker bar in the 1980s, he said, so it’s possible a gang could have been involved.
Although decades have passed, investigators continue to look for any information they can get about who the Lime Lady was. The sheriff’s office, working with the state medical examiner’s office, recently sent a DNA sample from the body to a missing persons database at the University of North Texas. But comparisons against the database turned up no matches.
At this point, investigators have exhausted every avenue they know of to identify the woman, Green said. He hopes media exposure will convince someone who knew the woman to come forward.
“She’s got to be someone to somebody, somewhere,” Green said. “Right now, we’ve done all that we can think of.”