Alice Louise Lee (Jun. 3, 1953 – Aug. 29, 1960) was just 7 years old when she was murdered. Physical evidence was not properly stored. It could make it impossible to use modern DNA analysis to help solve her case.
Alice Louise Lee disappeared around 10am on August 29, 1960 from the bean field near Trent (Eugene, Oregon) where her parents worked. Her nude, partially buried body was found on September 16, 1960, relatively close to the bean field. Alice told her mom that she was going to put her doll with the family lunch-box. She was never seen again.
Authorities said that Alice was carried to the place where she was found. How did they know? A change in tracks and depth of footprints? Two tracks suddenly becoming one deep track? At seven years old, Alice may not have added a lot of weight to really deepen an adult man’s track unless the soil was really soft. The average weight of a seven-year old is between 40-60lbs.
“Searchers later found her dolls and doll clothes in an area where pickers kept their lunches. Several women — including Alice’s late mother — later recalled hearing a brief, sharp scream about 11 a.m. All chalked it up to horseplay among teen pickers.”
It took two searches before Alice was found. Then-Deputy Sheriff Wayne Dillon, assigned to the case after earlier searches failed, found Alice’s body about 980 feet from where bloodhounds lost her trace earlier. R. W. Swan, the owner of the bean field, notified Dillon of a strange odor. Dillon searched the area. He said he saw what looked like a blood-stained stick about 20 feet from the girl’s body, see article here.
Was that stick preserved? Could he also see from a distance that a body was buried there?
The case is hindered by an investigation that may have missed many angles. In this article, you can read how frustrating it was for detectives.
Alice was found face down either with or without clothes wrapped around her neck. This article said her corduroy jacket was wrapped tightly around her neck. Corduroy is a thick fabric so strangulation with that jacket required strength. It seems to rule out very young boys.
“The men had found the dead child face down and partially buried in a hand-dug grave. Her clothes were piled beside her.” This article states the clothes were stacked beside her. Did that include her jacket? This article confuses me. If it is true why did the bloodhounds not find that stack? Were all her clothes found? Were all these pieces of clothing preserved so we can test them with the M-Vac? Even if not properly preserved they should still be reviewed with modern eyes to see if we missed anything, any trace, any mud, imprints, stains, soil, etc.
Of course, finding this child nude means we fear sexual assault. I assume that the autopsy would have given us more information. However, I have not read anything about an autopsy report in the public domain.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office stated at the time that the cause of death would be made known after the autopsy. So was it strangulation or not? If strangulation, was it by an object (clothes, rope, etc.) or manual) If the clothes are preserved, can we try to examine them with the M-Vac? If manual, can we say anything about the attacker being left or right-handed?
How exactly was Alice found?
Was she found by then-Deputy Sheriff Wayne Dillon who went looking in the area where Swam said he smelled a strange odor or was Alice’s nude, strangled body found after someone (not sure who) noticed buzzards circling around a shallow, hand-dug grave?
Another article states that “Lane County Deputy Sheriff Wayne Dillon and bean yard owner R.I. Swan, alerted by circling buzzards, found Alice’s nude, strangled body.” But this article doesn’t mention a blood-stained stick. It all comes down to the bloodhounds. I am pretty sure they’d have found a stack of clothes and/or a blood-stained stick.
I hope pictures were taken from that hand-dug grave. It might tell us if the digger was a man or a woman (size of the hand) and maybe we can see a preference for the right or the left hand.
Who did it?
Police thought it might have been a younger field worker. A local, not a stranger, who Alice knew, and “that the killer was teasing and tussling with the girl, that she screamed when his touching turned sexual, and that he strangled her in panic.“ However, in this article the detective is leaning to an older person.
There is not much about Alice online. Author Wesley Murphey grew up in Dexter. His book “A Homeless Man’s Burden: She Was Only Nine” is based on Alice’s case. Murphey said that his “dad was the Swans’ mail carrier for 25 years; my siblings and I picked beans at Swans’ for many years; my oldest sister was the same age as Alice, though she wasn’t picking beans at Swans’ when Alice died.”
I did find a piece about Donald Orrie Northey who was questioned but released. He was cleared after taking a lie detector test. I took a screen shot of that site. Articles came and go on the web so I am taking more screen shots now to show you what I saw.
But aside from this, Alice hardly has a web presence.
Anyone with information about this case please call the Oregon State Police at 503-934-0163.
Rest in peace, Alice Louise Lee.