After receiving threatening phone calls from an unknown male caller, Dorothy Jane Scott vanished without a trace from a hospital carpark in May 1980. After her abduction, her parents began to receive the malicious calls instead, until Dorothy’s scorched remains were discovered years later. Fast forward another 40 years and the mystery still surrounds her abduction and murder. The killer has never been identified.
Dorothy Jane Scott, born April 23, 1948 was a 32 year old, dedicated, single mother to her 4 year old son, Shawn (Shanti). The pair resided with Dorothy’s Aunt in Stanton California but remained close to the rest of her family who lived in nearby Anaheim. Her parents, Jacob and Vera Scott doted on their Grandson and would often look after him whilst Dorothy went to work as a secretary for two jointly owned stores called ‘Custom John’s Head Shop’ – (a shop selling cannabis accessories but not cannabis itself) and ‘Swinger’s Psych Shop.’ (a shop selling psychedelic paraphernalia.) Customers could literally purchase a bong in one shop and then immerse themselves amongst groovy posters and lava lamps in the next. Dorothy’s father had originally owned the psych shop but had recently sold it to a man named John Kycola who already owned the shop next door so Dorothy ended up working for John in one of the back offices.
Despite where she worked, Dorothy was a good girl. Her friends described her as a hardworking, conscientious woman who was devoted to her son and the Christian church. She didn’t take drugs or drink alcohol and wasn’t dating at that time. If she wasn’t working she could usually be found at home, as that’s where she liked to be. The life she led was not one to illicit danger, in fact one friend described Dorothy’s life as
“dull as a phone book,”
It was whilst she was at home one day that the mystery surrounding Dorothy’s story began. Months before her abduction, Dorothy had begun to receive daily phone calls from an unknown male caller. Her mother would later recount that Dorothy actually recognised the ‘soft spoken’ voice but couldn’t put a face to it. During these phone calls the menacing caller would alternate between benevolent declarations of love and terrifying threats of violence and murder. The caller knew everything about Dorothy’s life. He would describe to her in detail what she had done that day, where she’d been, her work schedule and errands she’d run – proving to Dorothy that he had been watching, stalking her! In one particular call Dorothy’s mother, Vera, recalled:
“One day he called and said to go outside because he had something for her. She went out and there was a single dead red rose on the windshield of her car.”Statesman Journal; Aug 20 1984
In a more sinister call, mere days before Dorothy disappeared, the caller viciously told her;
“Okay, now, you’re going to come my way and when I get you alone, I’m going to cut you into bits so no one will ever find you.”
Understandably, Dorothy was visibly shaken and upset. She began karate lessons for self defence and was considering purchasing a hand gun for protection. Terrified, she didn’t know what to do about the disturbing phone calls, however, for whatever reason, she didn’t report it to the police.
On May 27th 1980, Dorothy was required to attend a 9pm staff meeting at the Swinger’s Psych Shop. During the meeting Dorothy noticed one of her work colleagues, Conrad Bostron, looked unwell. He had become restless, sweaty and an area of inflammation was developing on his arm. Dorothy offered to drive him to the hospital and accompanied by another colleague, Pam Head, they left the meeting early and drove (in Dorothy’s car) to the UC Irvine Medical Centre E.R. On the way, Dorothy quickly stopped by her parents house in West Stonybrook, Anaheim, to check on her son. Whilst at the house her mother insisted Dorothy change the black scarf she was wearing to a red one. This small, seemingly insignificant detail will play an important role later on in the story!
Doctors at the UC Irvine Medical Centre E.R determined Bostron had been bitten by a black widow spider and he required immediate medical attention. Head later informed police that herself and Dorothy had waited in the E.R waiting room, chatting, reading magazines and watching television whilst Bostron received treatment for the bite. Head was very clear that they had been together the entire time. Bostron was finally discharged with a prescription around 11pm and as he was still feeling ill Dorothy insisted she would get the car from the parking lot and meet them at the exit, that way he wouldn’t have to walk too far. Whilst they waited Bostron used the restroom and collected the medication from his prescription before the pair headed to the exit to meet Dorothy.
Bostron and Head waited for several minutes for Dorothy but she didn’t arrive, growing impatient, they decided to go and look for her in the parking lot. No sooner had they got there a car came speeding towards them with the headlights blazing. They realised it was Dorothy’s car and began waving their arms to catch her attention but the car sped past them, taking a sharp right turn out of the parking lot. The headlights had been so bright that they hadn’t seen who was driving but they assumed it must have been Dorothy, perhaps there had been an emergency with her son, they thought? Reasoning that she would be back to pick them up after she had taken care of whatever emergency she was attending, Bostron and Head waited – for around 2 hours.
Some initial reports mentioned a smaller car leaving the parking lot in front of Dorothy’s – but this has not been confirmed.
Dorothy’s father, Jacob Scott, had remained on good terms with all the staff at the psych shop and would often help them out with the general maintenance of the place, because of that Bostron and Head had his telephone number. They called the Scott residence to ask about Dorothy and informed her parents of the events that had unfolded earlier that night. They discovered there hadn’t been a family emergency and Dorothy hadn’t returned to collect her son. Concerned for their friend and colleague’s welfare, they reported her as a missing person to the UCI police who felt there was no immediate cause for concern.
However, the situation soon changed and alarm bells were very much ringing when in the early hours of the morning on May 29th 1980, Dorothy’s abandoned white 1973 Toyota station wagon was discovered, engulfed in flames in a Santa Ana alleyway, approximately 10 miles from the hospital. There was an initial relief when authorities determined no one was in the car but the question still remained – where was Dorothy Scott?!
The investigation into Dorothy’s whereabouts ramped up with police accepting she had been kidnapped. Family members were advised not to talk to the media regarding her disappearance, in the hope a ransom demand might be made and they willingly complied, desperate to do whatever they could to help bring her home safely.
That all changed when, in a dramatic turn of events, Vera and Jacob became the receivers of the menacing phone calls from the unknown male caller;
Unknown Caller: “Are you related to Dorothy Scott?”
Unknown Caller “I’ve got her,”
The caller promptly hung up, but it wouldn’t be the last they heard from him.
After a week with no further progress in the investigation Jacob Scott decided enough was enough and he contacted the Santa Ana Register newspaper who agreed to print the story regarding Dorothy’s disappearance. On the day it was published, June 12th 1980, the newspapers editor, Pat Riley, received a call from a male claiming to be the person responsible for abducting and killing Dorothy:
“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.”
Police were able to confirm the callers authenticity because he had disclosed to Riley information regarding Dorothy’s kidnapping that was NOT known to the public – He knew all about Bostron’s spider bite and hospital visit and tellingly that she had been wearing a red scarf!! Details of which had not been included in the newspaper article.
He claimed Dorothy Scott had phoned to tell him she was at the UCI Medical Centre, a possibility which Pam Head vehemently disputes – insisting herself and Dorothy had stayed together all night, until Dorothy went to fetch the car. Jacob Scott also stated his daughter wasn’t dating anyone at the time of her disappearance.
With regards to the kidnapping itself, the caller claimed he approached Dorothy in the hospital car park and confronted her about seeing another man, an allegation he claimed she denied, which infuriated him because he ‘knew‘ she was – he told Riley he had photographs to prove it.
It is not uncommon for the ex partner to be responsible in a missing person case so unsurprisingly detectives took a closer look at Shawn’s estranged father, Dennis Terry. Detectives discovered he had been visiting the Scott’s and his son up until a few days before the kidnapping. However, he was at home in Missouri, nearly 2000 miles away from Anaheim, on the night in question and he was able to provide an air tight alibi and phone records to prove it. Co-workers were interviewed, more than once and Jacob Scott publicly stated they were like family to Dorothy and he didn’t believe any of them could have been responsible for the abduction of his daughter. Dorothy’s family even consulted a psychic, as did Law enforcement at one point, in a desperate bid for a break in the case. No matter who they spoke to or where they searched they kept coming up blank. Dorothy Scott had vanished.
Meanwhile, Dorothy’s parents continued to receive the calls from the unknown, soft spoken male. Every Wednesday for 4 years, without fail! The calls seemed to be timed perfectly for when Jacob was out of the house. Sometimes the caller would claim Dorothy was still alive, other times he informed them he had killed her. Sometimes he would ask Vera if Dorothy was there. The calls began to take their toll and despite wanting them to stop, the Scott’s kept the same phone number in the hope that one day, he might let them speak to Dorothy, if she was still alive.
The policed tapped the phones at the Scott’s residence and recorded the callers voice, nobody recognised him. They tried tracing the calls but the man never stayed on the line long enough for it to be successful.
The torturous calls eventually stopped in April 1984 after Jacob answered the phone for the first time, instead of his wife. For whatever reason, the caller had rang later in the day than he usually did. Jacob informed the caller he had dialled a wrong number. Did the caller assume the Scott family had moved? Changed their number? Or was he spooked because he feared Jacob might recognise him from the shops after all? Whatever the reason, his didn’t call again. For a while anyway.
All hopes of a happy ending were cruelly smashed on August 6th 1984 when a sub-contractor working for Pacific Bell discovered charred skeletal remains partially submerged in bushland on Canyon Road, Santa Ana. Upon further investigation it became evident that the bones were canine – with partial human remains hidden beneath them. (A human skull, an arm, pelvis and two thigh bones.) Detectives were able to date the remains as having been there for at least two years as a bushfire had ravaged the area in 1982, they believed that was what caused the charring to the bones. It’s likely the rest of the skeleton had been carried off by various animals and scavengers.
Among the remains, law enforcement found a turquoise ring and a woman’s wristwatch.. Eerily, the time and date on the watch had stopped at 12:30 a.m., May 29th, 1980. The stopped time was approximately an hour after Head and Bostron saw Dorothy’s car leave the hospital carpark. Did the stopped time and date coincide with her murder?
Side Note: It’s often mentioned in crime chat forums that one way people conceal a dead body is to bury it under an dead animal, i.e. a dog. That way if law enforcement come by with sniffer dogs then it’ll be assumed the dogs merely discovered a dead animal and then they’ll move on, not realising there was a human body further beneath the soil. Could it be the reason for the canine remains found above the human remains in this case? Was the killer trying to mislead, in the event of a discovery? (By the way, sniffer dogs are usually trained to locate human remains so the above is irrelevant and unlikely to work.)
Vera Scott identified the ring and watch as belonging to her daughter and just over week later, on August 14th,1984, Forensic odonatologist, Dr Robert Kelly was able to formally identify the remains via dental records and confirmed the human remains were Dorothy Scott’s. Her family were notified and the information was released to the public via the media. The identity of the dog was unknown as Dorothy didn’t have a dog at the time of her disappearance.
“Eight molars were present … they matched exactly with the dental records.”Los Angeles Times / Newspapers.com
Vera and Jacob Scott, although devastated at the discovery, were also relieved to finally be able to put their daughter to rest. The day after the remains were confirmed as belonging to Dorothy, her parents visited the mortuary to begin the arrangements for her funeral. Their son and Dorothy’s brother, Allen Scott, 30, remained at the family home. It was a Wednesday! Just like the many Wednesdays before, the phone began to ring and when Allen picked up the receiver he was greeted by the same tormenting, soft spoken voice that had haunted his mother for the previous four years. The caller rang twice, each time asking the same question;
“Is Dorothy there?”
Dorothy Scott’s funeral was held on August 22nd, 1984 at The forest Lawn Memorial-Parks, Cypress in a joint memorial service with her Uncle James McKee, who had died of cancer just the week before. 52 mourners attended the service to say goodbye to Dorothy (and James), with flowers adorned with ribbons, some which read ‘Sis’ and ‘Beloved Sister. A framed photo of a smiling Dorothy sat nearby, in remembrance of her from happier times. In a eulogy to his sister, Jim Scott said;
“To me, she exemplified the word ‘give.’ She’d just give, and give, and give, no matter what it cost her . . . she spent her last hours giving and being concerned about others.”
There had been speculation in the community that a man named Mike Butler was a person of interest in Dorothy’s murder. He lived in the Santiago Mountains and circulating rumours alleged that he practised cult activity. ‘Apparently‘ Butler was obsessed with Dorothy and because his sister worked with Dorothy at the Swinger’s Psych Shop it would explain how he would have known about Dorothy’s schedule and coming and goings. However, there was no evidence to back these allegations up, perhaps they were just simply local Rumours’ with no merit to them. Law enforcement were aware of Butler but were satisfied there was no evidence to even suggest he was a person of interest, let alone officially name him as a suspect. Either Butler was a named target which would tar his name forever, or he was a malicious killer who got away with murder.
Dorothy Jane Scott’s murderer has never been caught or identified. Its possible he isn’t even alive anymore. For over forty years he has literally got away with murder. Sadly, both Dorothy’s parents went to their graves without seeing justice for their daughter and not knowing who had taken her from them in such a vicious way.
- Newspapers.com: https://www.newspapers.com/image/?clipping_id=10010924&fcfToken=eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJmcmVlLXZpZXctaWQiOjE5OTgyMjcxMSwiaWF0IjoxNjMxMTg4NzYxLCJleHAiOjE2MzEyNzUxNjF9.GvgfPpJcuTLs0It41rAykH7jE6G9GH2KS1g5Dw_qxyY
- Newspapers.com: https://www.newspapers.com/image/?clipping_id=10010935&fcfToken=eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJmcmVlLXZpZXctaWQiOjE3MzM0MDY3NSwiaWF0IjoxNjMxNzAzMTk4LCJleHAiOjE2MzE3ODk1OTh9.8as0GG1vozQJNBTQJbipuIg5gCjoVBCVTJOiz8nqs-w
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Dorothy_Jane_Scott#cite_note-4
- Talk murder with me: https://www.talkmurderwithme.com/blog/2020/2/22/dorothy-jane-scott
- Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/UnresolvedMysteries/comments/4gk0y1/the_1980_disappearance_and_murder_of_dorothy_jane/
- Find a Grave: https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/7976/forest-lawn-memorial-park
- True Crime Daily: http://truecrimediary.com/index.cfm?page=cases&id=191
- Crime Traveller: https://www.crimetraveller.org/2020/10/the-tragic-death-of-dorothy-jane-scott/
- Crime Blogger: https://crimeblogger1983.blogspot.com/2017/05/update-dorothy-jane-scott.html
- Kympasqualini: https://kympasqualini.medium.com/taunted-by-an-anonymous-caller-the-murder-of-dorthy-jane-scott-4b77f0bc5069
- True Crime Diary: http://truecrimediary.com/index.cfm?page=cases&id=191
- Unsolved Casebook: https://www.unsolvedcasebook.com/dorothy-jane-scott-the-calls-of-a-killer/
- Classic car catalogue: https://classiccarcatalogue.com/TOYOTA_1973.html
- Flickr: https: //www.flickr.com/photos/26423305@N00/4696704276