The Dorothy Jane Scott Case: An Absolutely Terrifying Story

L'affaire Dorothy Jane Scott : terreur sur la ligne

When reality surpasses fiction. The Dorothy Jane Scott case is so terrifying that it goes beyond a script from a screenwriter’s fertile imagination. The victim is a young mother with a promising future who is subjected to the telephone assaults of a man with a particularly devious mind, before disappearing in unprecedented circumstances; in the months that follow, her killer will this time terrorize her parents in an extremely cruel manner. The Scott family’s destiny changed one day in May 1980 in California, an American state that had to deal with intense criminal activity on its territory throughout the decade preceding Dorothy Jane Scott’s disappearance.

Sinister phone calls

Dorothy Jane Scott

1980, Stanton, California. Dorothy Jane Scott, 32, lives with her 4-year-old son and aunt, and works as a secretary for two Anaheim-based stores selling hippie items such as lava lamps, lucky necklaces and pipes devoted to the use of substances either illegal or tolerated under local legislation. Although a practising Christian, Dorothy loves her job and is close to her colleagues with alternative tastes. Her ties with her parents are strong. She’s happy, but for some time now this happiness has been marred by malicious phone calls from a man who seems to have an obsession with the young woman. The man is both love-struck and threatening, claiming on occasion that he wants to kill her. Her stalker is tenacious and seems to know everything about Dorothy’s life. Two of his calls specifically terrorized the young mother. In the first, he asks Dorothy to leave the store where she works because he has something for her. She complies and finds a wilted rose on the windshield of her car. The second call triggers a dull terror in Dorothy: the caller says he’s going to kidnap her, then cut her into pieces so she’ll never be found.

The strangest disappearance you’ve ever heard of

Dorothy Jane Scott était harcelée par un correspondant retors

Repeated calls from this scary man lead the young woman to consider buying a gun, but she prefers to go with karate lessons. She attends her first class a week before disappearing. On May 28, 1980, Dorothy and her colleagues were summoned to a business meeting at the end of the day. During the meeting, Dorothy and her colleague Pam Head noticed that one of their colleagues, whose hand was swollen, wasn’t feeling very well, and insisted on taking him to the emergency room. On the way to the Irvine hospital, Dorothy stops off at her parents’ home in Anaheim to kiss her son. Her colleagues in the car see her return with a red scarf, whereas a few moments earlier she was wearing a black one. This detail would prove important in the weeks that followed. The three colleagues arrive at the hospital and Conrad Bostron, the man with the red, swollen hand, is attended to by a doctor. It turns out he’s been bitten by a black widow. As Bostron completes the paperwork required by the hospital, Dorothy offers to pick up her car so that she can park at the drop-off point and speed the trip back to Anaheim.

When Pam Head and Conrad Bostron exit from the emergency room, they see Dorothy’s full-beam car speeding past them before leaving the hospital parking lot. They assume that their colleague must have made a call to her parents, and that something involving her son may have happened. But a few hours later, with no news of Dorothy, who has not shown up at her parents’ home, they alert the authorities.

The beginning of an ordeal for Dorothy’s parents plunged into deep distress

Le ravisseur de Dorothy Jane Scott appelle ses parents tous les mercredis pendant quatre longues années

It’s 11 p.m. when Dorothy heads for the parking lot. At 4:30 a.m. that night, a burning 1973 Toyota was reported 10 miles from the hospital. It was Dorothy Jane Scott’s car, but she could not be found. In the weeks that followed, the search was fruitless. On June 12, a man contacted the Orange County Register newspaper, which had just published an article on the case, and declared “I killed her. I killed Dorothy Scott. She was my love. I caught her cheating on me with another man. She denied having an affair. I killed her”. The week after their daughter’s disappearance, Dorothy’s parents received a call from the kidnapper, who said “I have your daughter” before hanging up. And, for four long years, the man would call every Wednesday when Vera Scott, the missing girl’s mother, was home alone. During these brief calls, he would sometimes say that he had Dorothy, and sometimes that he had killed her. Investigators decide to wiretap the Scotts’ home, but the stalker is vicious enough to make only the briefest of calls. One Wednesday in April 1984, Jacob Scott, Dorothy’s father, was unusually at home and answered the phone. The kidnapper’s calls cease forever.

A bitter epilogue

On August 6, 1984, a worker on a construction site near Santa Ana Canyon Road in Anaheim discovers bones. They were human bones and the remains of a dog. The bones are charred. A turquoise-mounted ring and a watch adjoin the remains. The watch was stopped at 12:30 a.m. on May 29. On August 14, the bones were identified as those of Dorothy Jane Scott, thanks to her dental records. Unfortunately, the degradation of the bones prevented an autopsy from determining the cause of death. A memorial service was held on August 22, 1984. Since June 1980, the investigation has been bogged down, and all the leads followed by the investigators have come to nothing. Forty-three years later, Dorothy Jane Scott’s killer has still not been identified.

A multitude of strange facts

The murderer was aware of most of Dorothy’s actions. For example, during the June 12, 1980 call to the Orange County Register newspaper, the man specified that Dorothy was wearing a red scarf when he abducted her, whereas on the evening of May 28 she had gone to her meeting wearing a black scarf. Dorothy had told her parents that her stalker’s voice sounded familiar, but that she couldn’t put a face to it.

The killer also stated during his calls to Scott’s parents that Dorothy had called him while she was in the waiting room of the Irvine emergency room. However, Pam Head disputes this claim and maintains that Dorothy never left the room for a moment while Conrad Bostron was receiving treatment.

Dorothy Jane Scott was certainly abducted from the hospital’s parking garage. Head and Bostron did not discern the driver of the vehicle as it left the hospital parking lot, but they believe they saw a single silhouette in the passenger compartment. If Dorothy, who was known for her careful driving, was not the person behind the wheel, had she been thrown into the trunk moments earlier?

The watch found near the bones exhumed in 1984 showed 12:30 a.m. on May 29, one hour after the young woman’s abduction from Irvine hospital. It seems that her killer took her life shortly after the abduction.

All Dorothy Jane Scott’s colleagues and superiors were cleared of any wrongdoing. But her killer knew a lot about her and her family. And, he struck following a business meeting at which Dorothy took particular care of her spider-bitten colleague. It’s conceivable that an indirect colleague (maintenance worker, cleaner, etc.) could have fixated on the young woman and taken umbrage at the empathy she showed to her colleague with a swollen, sore hand. How did the man, even though he followed Dorothy’s every move on a daily basis, knew that she was at the Irvine hospital that evening when she was supposed to be attending a business meeting?

Dorothy’s son, Shawn Scott, was relentless in his search for his mother’s killer. In particular, he turned his search to the brother of one of Dorothy’s colleagues, Michael Butler, who, it seems, had a pronounced attraction for the young woman and was part of some kind of cult. This could explain the canine remains found near Dorothy’s bones.

More information on the case

Kym L. Pasqualini has written an interesting and well-documented article on the Dorothy Jane Scott case on Medium.

Read the article in French

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