A cold case unit is probing possible links between serial killer Wayne Nance and a woman whose skeletal remains were recently identified.
The investigation to uncover any links between Janet Lee Lucas and Wayne Nance, known as the Missoula Mauler, came after officers announced they had finally identified her from remains that were found in 1985, in Missoula County, Montana.
The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office said the cold case unit and other members of the force were scrutinizing all information about the 23-year-old’s disappearance, including statements from family members.
It added that due to where Janet’s remains were found and its proximity to “Debbie Deer Creek,” the name given to another of Nance’s victims, Marcella Bachman, 16, before she was identified, they would probe any links between her and the serial killer.
Sheriff T.J. McDermott said: “I’d like to thank the cold case unit, University of North Texas Center for Human Identification, Montana Regional Program for continually updating Janet’s profile, the Montana DOJ Sexual Assault Kit Initiative program, Montana DOJ Forensic Science Division, the FBI Forensic Genetic Genealogy program, Othram DNA laboratory and Janet’s family.”
He continued: “It truly was a team effort that required the assistance and cooperation of a number of agencies and people to bring some closure to the Lucas family. Our thoughts and prayers are with Janet’s family during this difficult time.”
Janet was discovered by a bear hunter on September 19, 1985, and the skeletal remains were known as “Christy Crystal Creek,” due to where they were located.
Despite working alongside forensics over several decades and scouring missing persons databases in the U.S. and Canada, officers were unable to identify Janet until recently.
Janet, originally from Spokane, Washington, is not known to have visited or lived in Montana in the years before her death. Officers shared a picture of Janet, taken in 1979, in the hope that someone might have seen her in the summer of 1983 and into 1984.
Her family released a statement on Monday after the announcement was made. It read: “After decades of missing Janet, our family is broken-hearted to learn that she was taken, unidentified and spent a large amount of years alone.
“However, she never spent one moment without being loved. Janet had a contagious smile, warm personality and wore her heart on her sleeve. Janet had been missed dearly, searched for but most importantly never forgotten.”
It continued: “Janet was loved by everyone. Not only was she a mother, she was a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend and now a grandmother to four beautiful children.
“We are grateful to finally be able to bring her home to us, as well as bring Janet the peace and rest she deserves.”
Nance was killed in 1986 when he was shot while attacking his last two victims.