A lot of our listeners may not know this, Willy, but you and I have been friends since childhood, and one of our favorite pastimes as children was listening to that hit Christian children’s radio drama Adventures in Odyssey. And while, yes, I did describe it as a Christian children’s radio drama, I think it’s fair to say that nothing in our lives has utterly terrified us more than Adventures in Odyssey. There’s one episode in particular that cost me many nights of childhood sleep, in which the beloved character Connie Kendall receives some harassing phone calls. You know the one, Willy…
Okay, now that we are both sufficiently frightened out of our socks, we can jump into today’s mystery. The reason I brought up that horrifying episode of Adventures in Odyssey is because today’s story involves some pretty spooky harassing telephone calls as well. However, instead of ending with a beautiful if completely impossible happy ending that also teaches us a delightful little lesson about the Christian faith, this story ends with…MURDER!!!
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Let’s go back in time, all the way back to the year 1980, in Anaheim, California. We’re standing on a sidewalk in Anaheim, with the hustle and bustle of Orange County all around us. If you look over there, you’ll see a man peeing on a stack of tires while singing Styx’s “Renegade” in a minor key. And if you look over there, you’ll see a woman trying to fit a dead tabby cat in her purse as her daughter fills out an application to become a gypsy. And if you look over there, you’ll see a ten-year-old bratface kid stomping bald eagle eggs with his bare feet.
But Willy, we’re not here for the people, as fascinating as they might be. We’re here for the little hippie shop on the corner there. The sign says Swinger’s Psych and Head Shop Boutique. Do you see it? Okay, let’s go inside. But let’s not stop to look at the merchandise. Let’s just go ahead and go to the back room where the secretary works. But be quiet! We don’t want to disturb her!
This is 32-year-old Dorothy Jane Scott, an attractive dark-haired, dark-eyed woman. She’s a single mom who works too hard, who loves her kids and never stops, with gentle hands and a heart of a fighter, she’s a survivor. Oh wait, no that’s Reba McEntire. But truly, Dorothy is a single mother who lives with her aunt in nearby Stanton, and she works long hours to support her four-year-old son Shawn, although such a busy schedule makes it very difficult for her to be a part of the dating scene. But as I’m sure you can tell, she is a very kind and compassionate woman, who is a very reliable and hard worker.
Wait. What’s that? Oh, she’s getting a phone call. Shh, shh, let’s listen in.
"Okay, now you're going to come my way, and when I get you alone, I will cut you up into bits so no one will ever find you."
Wow, wow, wow! Now that was a spooky phone call, wasn’t it? But, unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Dorothy has gotten a phone call like that. In fact, she’s been receiving these calls at work for a few months. The caller is a man who can’t seem to decide whether he’s totally in love with Dorothy, or whether he wants to chop her up and serve her for Thanksgiving dinner. Dorothy had no idea who the caller was, but the voice was vaguely familiar to her.
Whoever the caller was, he freaked Dorothy out. And, I guess, maybe it could be a bit unsettling to have someone repeatedly calling your work phone, telling that he’s been following you, and that he can detail your daily activities to prove it. And perhaps, if you’re a real wimpy, it might be possible that you could potentially become alarmed when a man calls you, tells you to come outside because he has something for you, and then when you go outside, there’s no one there, only a dead rose lying on your windshield.
Now, I don’t mean to belittle the freakiness of what was happening to Dorothy. Well. I mean, I do since I did, but whatever. What I mean to say is that it’s pretty understandable that Dorothy would begin to take karate class. She also considered buying a handgun, but decided not to do so for fear that her son Shawn might hurt himself with it.
Whoa. We must have been talking for a long time, because if you look at the calendar, you’ll find that it’s already the end of May, 1980! May 27, 1980, to be exact. That evening, Dorothy dropped her son Shawn off at her parents’ house and then went to work for a 9 pm staff meeting.
During the meeting, Dorothy noticed that one of her coworkers, a young man named Conrad Bostron, was experiencing excruciating pain. If you’ll remember, Dorothy was described as a kind-hearted and compassionate person, so it should be no surprise that she got to her feet in the middle of the meeting and went over to Conrad to see if he was all right. It quickly became apparent that he was not all right, as his arm was inflamed and it was developing a red streak.
Dorothy interrupted the meeting and proclaimed that Conrad needed medical attention right away, so she, along with another employee named Pam Head, helped Conrad out to her car to take him to the hospital. Inexplicably, on the way to the hospital, Dorothy decided to stop off at her parents’ house to check on her son. Even more inexplicably, while at her parents’ house—with a man who could very well be dying out in her car—Dorothy took the time to change out of the black scarf she had been wearing into a black scarf.
After Dorothy’s impromptu wardrobe change, Dorothy took Conrad to the UC Irvine Medical Center in the nearby town of Orange. At the hospital, a diagnostician identified that Conrad had been bitten by a black widow spider. Conrad was taken back to be attended to, while Dorothy and Pam stayed out in the waiting room, reading magazines, watching television, and making small talk.
Conrad was discharged shortly after 11 pm, and while he had improved considerably, he was still unsteady on his feet. Pam stayed with him as he filled out paperwork for the visit and filled the prescription he’d been given, while Dorothy ran to the restroom and then went out to the parking lot to pull her car up to the exit door.
Several minutes passed, but Dorothy did not return inside or honk to indicate that she was outside. After filling Conrad’s prescription, Pam and Conrad went out to the parking lot and saw Dorothy’s car approaching. They noticed that the high beams were on so that they couldn’t see the driver, not even as the car went racing past them before turning right out of the parking lot. Pam and Conrad chased after the car, but it sped off and shut off the headlights, virtually making the car disappear in the darkness of the night.
Pam and Conrad were understandably upset, but they figured that there must have been some sort of emergency with Dorothy’s son Shawn, and that she would be back after awhile. However, after two hours of waiting, Pam and Conrad figured something was wrong, so they informed hospital security of their concern. They also called Dorothy’s parents to ask if she had come back to the house or if there was any reason she would have left the hospital so suddenly. Dorothy’s parents said no on both counts.
A few hours later, at 4:30 am, Dorothy’s car was found about ten miles away in Santa Ana. It was parked in an alleyway, and it was on fire. Police determined that the fire had been set deliberately, but Dorothy was not found in the car, nor was there any trace of her. She was then reported as a missing person.
Because Dorothy disappeared from the UC Irvine Medical Center, it appeared that the UC Irvine police had jurisdiction in the case. Willy, if I disappear, please do not let the Kansas State University police investigate it, because this campus police force had an interesting—and ineffective—method of solving the case: the UC Irvine police decided that they would not publicize the disappearance at all, and encouraged Dorothy’s parents not to talk about it either.
Now, although this was a very strange and terrible idea on the part of the UC Irvine police, their investigation wasn’t all terrible. The first thing they did—as they should have done—was rule out Dorothy’s ex as a suspect in her disappearance. He had an airtight alibi, having been in Missouri on the evening that Dorothy disappeared. The police also determined that her kidnapper was likely not a customer at the hippie story, since she worked in a back office, away from the public eye. They also looked into local sex offenders and the people who ran in Dorothy’s social circles, but no real suspects were identified. Pretty much, though, the investigation was quite terrible, and the trail went real cold real fast.
Now, if you didn’t think that this story was already pretty spooky, then hold onto your butts, because we’re about to crank the spook factor to eleven. About a week or two after Dorothy went missing, the old telephone rang at Dorothy’s parents’ house. Dorothy’s mother Vera answered, and when she did, a man’s voice said, “Are you related to Dorothy Scott? Well, I’ve got her.” Pretty spooky, right? The Scotts figured that this caller must have been the same person who had been harassing Dorothy in her office, and that this was also the same person who had kidnapped her.
After awhile, Dorothy’s father Jacob became frustrated with the police investigation’s lack of results, so he finally broke his silence. He went to The Santa Ana Register and told them all about what happened to his daughter. The Register ran a story on Dorothy’s disappearance on June 12, two weeks after she went missing.
That same day, after the edition went out, a call came in to the office of Pat Riley, the editor of The Santa Ana Register. The caller was a male with a deep, gruff, soft-spoken voice that was obviously disguised. The caller said, “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.”
It was believed that the man who called was indeed the man who had taken Dorothy, as he was able to provide details about Dorothy’s disappearance that were not included in the original news story, which was exclusive to the Register. For instance, he knew that Dorothy was wearing a red scarf, even though she had been wearing a black scarf most of the evening and only changed into the red one on the way to the hospital. The caller also stated that he knew that Dorothy had taken Conrad to the hospital because of a spider bite, which was a detail that wasn’t known that evening until after Conrad had been seen by the diagnostician. Interestingly, the caller also claimed that Dorothy had called him from the UC Irvine Medical Center. However, Pam Head, who had accompanied Dorothy and Conrad to the bathroom, said that this could not have been possible, because she had been with Dorothy the entire evening, except for when Dorothy went to the bathroom on her way out to the parking lot. This was in the days before cell phones, so if Dorothy was going to call this guy, she would have had to have done it from a pay phone, which Pam probably would have noticed.
That spooky call to The Santa Ana Register wasn’t the last time we would hear from Dorothy’s kidnapper. In fact, pretty much every Wednesday for the next four years, this man called the Scotts’ home. The phone calls always came during the daytime hours when Vera was the only one at home. The man would alternate between asking, “Is Dorothy there?” and stating, “I’ve got Dorothy.”
The police agreed with the Scotts, believing that this caller was the man who had called Dorothy at work and kidnapped her from the hospital. They recorded the phone calls that the Scotts received, but they were never able to identify the voice. The Scotts also had their phone lines tapped, but they were never able to keep the caller on the line long enough for the calls to be traced. Now, you might be thinking that after four years, those phone calls must have gotten annoying. Why didn’t they just change their phone number? Well, Jacob and Vera Scott hoped that, if the man really did have Dorothy, at some point he would let them speak to her.
Now, in April of 1984, the caller changed up his routine and called in the evening. This time, since Vera wasn’t home alone, Jacob was the one who answer the phone. Apparently shocked by this, the caller hung up and the calls stopped. The Scotts believed that when the caller heard Jacob’s voice over the phone, he must have assumed that new people had moved to the house, and decided that he didn’t want to harass people whose daughters he hadn’t kidnapped.
On August 6, 1984, four months after the phone calls stopped, a subcontractor for Pacific Bell was about to dig a trench to lay cables under Santa Ana Canyon Road north of Anaheim when he noticed something partially submerged in the soil. If your guess was that this subcontractor had found human remains, you would be absolutely correct. The subcontractor found a skull, a pelvis, an arm, and two thigh bones. Also found at the scene was a woman’s wristwatch, which was stopped at 12:30 am on May 29, 1980, the day after Dorothy went missing, and a turquoise ring which Vera confirmed to be Dorothy’s. On August 14, dental records were used to positively identify the remains as those of Dorothy Jane Scott. The missing-persons investigation became a murder investigation. However, there really wasn’t much of an investigation to speak of.
Now, after the local newspapers announced that the remains had been identified as Dorothy’s, the phone rang again at the Scott home. When Vera answered it, a now familiar voice asked her, “Is Dorothy home?” The caller called twice, and the calls finally ended for good.
After Dorothy disappeared, the Scotts raised her son Shawn to adulthood. Jacob Scott died in 1994, one week shy of his 70th birthday. Vera died in 2002. Neither of them were able to learn the identity of their daughter’s killer, and their constant tormentor of four years.
Unlike most of the cases we cover here on MysteriYES, there are no suspects in this case. Most likely, the man who called Dorothy at work, the man who kidnapped and killed her, and the man who called her parents for four years are probably all the same person. Unfortunately, no one has any idea who this guy is.
Based on the evidence we have in this case, I think that Dorothy knew her killer, though probably not well. I imagine he was someone who saw her somewhat frequently and was in love with her, but for whatever reason, never had the stones to talk to her. Even though the police stated that they had ruled out Dorothy’s coworkers, I still kind of think that it could have been someone Dorothy worked with. A coworker would have enough run-ins with Dorothy to become obsessed with her, but could potentially remain distant enough to keep from being identified as her harasser. After all, Dorothy did say that her harasser’s voice did sound vaguely familiar. Additionally, a coworker would have known how to reach Dorothy in her office at work, and would also have been in the staff meeting to know that she had taken Conrad to the hospital on the night of her disappearance.
There’s been some speculation that Dorothy’s disappearance is connected to another disappearance of a young woman that took place in the area around that time. This young woman was 25-year-old Patricia Jean Schneider. On July 31, 1982, two years after Dorothy’s disappearance, Patricia had just finished her shift as a cocktail waitress and stopped into a Circle K in Pedley, California at around 3:45 am. She used a pay phone at the gas station, stating that her car had broken down. The clerk who was working at the time said he saw two blond white men out in the parking lot while Patricia was making her call. What happened to her after that, no one knows. A few hours later, between 5 and 6 am, Patricia’s car was found in a field...on fire. Police determined that the fire had been set deliberately, and that there was no trace of Patricia at the scene. Foul play is suspected in Patricia’s disappearance, but it, like Dorothy’s has never been solved.
I think these two cases are considered possibly connected because both women’s cars were found deliberately set on fire a few hours after they disappeared. However, this is pretty much where the similarities seem to end. Near as I can tell, Patricia never received harassing phone calls or anything like that. Plus, it seems like if Dorothy’s killer had found a new target, he would have probably moved on from tormenting the Scotts with regular phone calls. However, the phone calls continued for two years after Patricia disappeared. So, if you’re asking me, I think that Patricia and Dorothy’s cases are completely unrelated.
So that’s the story of Dorothy Jane Scott. Willy, do you have any thoughts about the case? Do you have any friends who have confessed to you that they stalked and killed a woman in California in 1980?