This rather infamous case has no conclusion. The reason it is notable in a tragic sea of unsolved murders is that for 30 years the victim had no name. Often police are criticised for not handling evidence correctly. In days gone by there have been some awful mess ups in crime scene management. In this case evidence gathering and preservation was of the highest standard.
Brief Circumstances of the Awful Death of Marcia King
22nd April 1981 a young woman’s body was found on Green Lee Rd, Troy, Ohio. She was about 5′ 6″ tall with red hair. She had been beaten, then strangled to death. She was fully clothed except for her bare feet. She was wearing a buckskin style jacket with fringes. The autopsy declared that she had only been dead about 36-48 hours according to a news report at the time.
Appeals were put out including artists sketches of this young woman yet nothing came of them. Eventually she was buried and a marker was put on the grave declaring her as Jane Doe. Even though the usefulness of DNA evidence was not known, in 1981, a blood sample was preserved. Also the cops preserved hair samples and clothing.
As technology improved the clothing revealed pollen traces that suggested that the girl had spent sometime in a hot climate in the South Western and or South Eastern USA. They also said she had spent sometime in the North East. DNA was extracted from the blood sample and was traced to the family of Marcia Lenore King. Ms King, 21, had disappeared from her home in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1980. The issue in this case was that she left home without incident or note. Later it would be found that Ms King was simply a bit of a free spirit. When she left home the family assumed she was of on another adventure and would return, as a result she never was reported missing.
The investigation into her murder was not a negligent one. The appeals presented cops with a couple of hundred leads and they were followed up. In addition, the case was looked at in regard to open serial killing investigations. Periodically the case was re opened and examined through the 30 long years she was unidentified.
Once identified detectives tried to work back over time to trace Ms Kings movements. It is believed she had returned to Arkansas shortly before her death and she was linked to a movement called ‘The Way’.
Finally, in 2018, Ms King gets a headstone bearing her name. The family were particularly grateful to the local community for their efforts to care for Ms King after she was found dead and the efforts made to trace her.
From the description of her clothing which included a home made poncho I think of Ms King as a bit of a hippy chick. Not necessarily in the classic late 1960s mode but close. Her braided pony tails and excellent dental care show she was probably not some wandering vagrant with a thing for narcotics. She spent quite a bit of time, estimated at about four months, in South Western or South Eastern USA in a warm climate. I have her down as being in a commune type group that were pretty common around then.
Recently I watched the rather excellent documentary on the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh cult that was set up in Oregon in the early 1980s. Though North West and a little later it did show the different culture of the time. Hitchhiking and spiritual quests were the ‘thing’ back then. So you could have well cared for, clean cut people wandering in a way that would seem foreign to us today. Hitchhiking and then occasionally remaining with a group that offered you a ride was not unusual.
Though there is little known now of the intricacies of the case in public I think this was no serial killing. It is more likely a argument that got brutal. Her lack of shoes could have been because a killer took them as trophies of course but there was no sexual assault. Indeed there was no trace of sexual contact with anyone when the autopsy was done. I think that the lack of shoes is because Ms King was travelling in a vehicle when whatever occurred. It spilled to the road and she was beaten and strangled.
Of course that is total speculation. It would be interesting to get the original cop’s thoughts on it. All I can say is god bless Ms King and her family. Also well done those cops back in 1981. At least the family got a conclusion after all those years of wondering.