On May 28, 1980, Dorothy Jane Scott, a 32-year-old single mother, drove 2 co-workers to the hospital after 1 had been bitten by a spider. They were waiting for a prescription to be filled, and Dorothy went to get her car to bring it around for when they were done.
But when her car pulled up, it immediately sped away. She was reported missing a few hours later after they continually didn't hear for her. Police learned that in the months before her disappearance, she had been receiving strange, anonymous phone calls from a man who had been stalking her, threatening to get her alone to "cut her up into bits".
In June of 1980, a man called the Orange County Register to confess that he had killed Dorothy, and police believed it was not a hoax, and he was the killer. Over the next 4 years, Dorothy's mother Vera received various phone calls from a someone who claimed to have killed her daughter. However, the man never stayed on the phone long enough to trace.
In August o 1984, partial remains were found and identified as Dorothy's. No arrests were ever made in this horrific, disturbing case.
LEADING UP TO THE DISAPPEARANCE
Dorothy was a single mother living in Stanton, California, with her 4-year-old son. She was living with her aunt, and working as a secretary for 2 different stores that song psychedelic items and marijuana paraphernalia. Despite her job, her friends said she didn't drink or do drugs, and was a devout Christian woman who preferred staying in.
Her parents, who lived in nearby Anaheim, would babysit her son while she worked. Her father said that she may have dated on occasion, but didn't have a steady boyfriend at the time of her disappearance.
Starting a few months before her abduction, she began receiving strange phone calls at her job from a strange man, who professed both his love for her and his desire to kill her. Once, he called and told her to go look on her car, where she found a single dead rose on her car.
Obviously, this terrified Dorothy. Coupled with him calling and telling her he wanted to get her alone and "cut her up into bits so no one will ever find you", she was feeling extremely uneasy. As such, she purchased a handgun and started karate lessons.
For some context, stalking would not become a crime in the United States until 1990, and even then, it was only illegal in California. (The law came as a result of various women being murdered after being stalked). Within 3 years, every state considered stalking, in some capacity, to be a crime. But at the time a man was calling her at work, threatening her life, and leaving terrifying messages on her car, it would be entirely legal for another 10 years.
DISAPPEARANCE AND MURDER
At around 9 PM on May 28, 1980, Dorothy was at a meeting at work when she noticed her coworker, Conrad Bostron, looked sick and had a large red mark on his arm. She and a coworker, Pam Head, left the meeting to take Conrad to the emergency room at UC Irvine Medical Center.
The doctors confirmed that Conrad had been bitten by a black widow spider and began treating him. Pam and Dorothy waited in the waiting room, and Pam said Dorothy never left her side.
At around 11 PM, Conrad was discharged and given a prescription. He was still not feeling well and Dorothy didn't want him to walk too far, so she offered to go get her car and bring it around to the exit. She went to the restroom quickly and then went out to the parking garage to get her car while Pam and Conrad waited at the exit.
They saw Dorothy's car coming at them, but it was going extremely fast and the headlights were blinding them so they couldn't see who was driving. They were waving their arms, trying to get Dorothy's attention, but the car sped past them and left the parking garage.
Initially, they tried to reason that perhaps an emergency had come up with Dorothy's son, but when they didn't hear for her for a few hours, they reported her missing. The following morning at about 4:30 AM, her car was found burning in an alley about 10 miles away from the hospital.
On August 6, 1984, over 4 years later, a construction worker discovered dog and human bones side by side. Authorities believed they had been there for years. On August 14, the bones were identified as Dorothy Jane Scott's by dental records. However, the cause of death could not be determined based on the deterioration, as well as the limited amount of remains found.
THE STRANGE PHONE CALLS CONTINUE
About a week after her daughter went missing, Dorothy's mother, Vera, received a call from a man who said "I've got her" and quickly hung up. He would call nearly every Wednesday afternoon and either tell Vera that he had her, or that he killed her. They were typically quick, untraceable conversations.
In April of 1984, after 4 years of tormenting her mother, the caller called during the evening and Vera's husband, Jacob, answered, and the calls stopped coming. But after her remains were found, the calls started coming again. Police tried to trace them, but they were not long enough calls to trace.
About a month after her disappearance, a strange call was received at the front desk of the Orange County Register. On June 12, 1980, an unidentified man called, saying, "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." He also mentioned Conrad's spider bite, and what she had been wearing when she was taken, details that were not made public at the time. The caller claimed that Dorothy called him that night from the hospital, though Pam disputes this, as she was with her the whole time.
Investigators believe the man was telling the truth and was Dorothy's killer, but there was no way to track him.
SOME INFORMATION ON STALKING
Stalking is when somebody, be it a stranger, family member, partner or ex-partner, watches, follows or harasses you. The legal definition varies from state to state, but most align on a few attributes of stalkers. They may show up to your work or home unannounced, send unwanted communication, leave gifts, call regularly, track you on social media, make unwanted phone calls, call your employer or teacher, hang near where you hang out, use other people to investigate your life, or damage your property in some way.
"Stalking is a form of mental assault," according to Lamber Royakkers. There are 6 common types of stalking victims. The most common are people who were in previous relationships with their stalker, "the most common victim profile being a woman who has previously shared an intimate relationship with her (usually) male stalker". These perpetrators may be more violence.
The second type is casual acquaintances and friends, which is the most common type of victim for a male to become. Professional contacts is another category, in which patients, clients, or students stalk their professional acquaintance, such as their doctor, lawyer, or teacher, who are all at higher risk for stalking. Similarly, workplace contacts are victims who are targeted by an employer, employee, or customer, which may pose a threat not just to the victim, but those around them.
Less common is stranger stalking, which is what Dorothy's case was. In these cases, the victims don't even know when or how their stalkers began watching them, because they don't know who they are. Even upon seeing them, they may not know when they crossed paths with him. These stalkers form their sense of love and admiration from a distance - perhaps they smiled at them once at the store, and they fell in "love".
And the last category is celebrities, which can include politicians, athletes, or anyone with a heavy media presence, who are stalked by fans.
Additionally, as there are different types of victims, there are also 5 different types of stalkers.
The first, which matches up with the intimate relationship victim-type, or the work place contact type, is the rejected stalker. These people typically follow victims to reverse, correct, or avenge rejection such as a divorce, break-up, or professional termination. Similarly, resentful stalkers have some sort of vendetta against the victim, but don't necessarily want to avenge their wrongdoing. Instead, they just want to desire and scare them.
Intimacy seekers are trying to establish a loving relationship with the victim, and often believe that they are soulmates who are meant to be together. Though they do believe they are in love, this is not to say they can't be extremely dangerous. When their illusion becomes shattered, they may turn violent.
Incompetent suitors often have a sense of fixation or entitlement to an intimate relationship with those they find attractive, or whom they believe have expressed mutual interest (a smile, a "like"). Typically, victims of this type of loser are already in a relationship with someone else. And finally, predatory stalkers stalk their victims in order to prepare for an attack, typically sexual, on the victim.
Stalkers can be psychotic (delusions, schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia) or non-psychotic (suffering depression, substance dependance, personality disorders). Non-psychotic stalkers typically pursue their victims in anger, projecting blame, obsession, or jealousy. Only about 10% of stalkers have an erotomanic delusion disorder.
So stalking is obviously bad, and you know this. But it wasn't considered a crime until 1990 in California, and up to 1993 in other states. The criminalization came after various high-profile stalking cases, like Theresa Saldana (who survived a knife attack by an obsessed fan in 1982), Richard Farley's 1988 massacre (he had been stalking his coworker for 4 years), and the murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer in 1989 by a stalker/obsessed fan. At this point they're like, huh, maybe we should take these dudes who watch every single thing these women do, follow them around, and threaten them seriously?
But victims do not believe the crime is taken seriously enough. In a 2011 study, 2/3 victims of stalking said their complaints were not taken seriously enough, and that offenders were not charged in 9/10ths of cases. The study found that "low level" stalking offenses were dealt with leniently, but may also escalate to more serious offenses, up to and including murder. Though stalking in an of itself is a crime, many women have the same story when they try to bring their fear to the police: they couldn't do anything unless they are actually hurt.
In 2019, 19-year-old girl Shana Grice repeatedly reported her ex-boyfriend to officers for stalking. She was fined for wasting police time. Her ex-boyfriend would go on to slit her throat and burn her body.
In 2018, Rosemarie Reilly begged police for help against her ex-boyfriend. An arrest warrant was issued, but 9 days after (with no action from police), he tracked her down, dragged her into the street, and shot her multiple times before killing himself.
There are many other stories like these ones. Stalking is seen as an un-actionable pre-curser to an actual crime and not a crime in and of itself. Many times, the victims don't get the police to take it seriously until it is too late.
In 1980, laws were not in place that would have protected Dorothy Jane Scott had she gone to the police. But now, in 2020, would those laws have protected her? Would the story have gone any differently if she was able to contact the police? Or would the dead rose on her car and threats to cut her up into pieces be seen as empty threats that couldn't be dealt with until something "actually" happened to her? And by then, as we sadly know, it would be too late.
Stalking is a crime that, historically, wasn't even a crime and now that it is a crime, it isn't treated as such. Women are often reluctant to go to the police in fears of making it worse, for no actual benefit or protection.
Dorothy Jane Scott was a good person, a loving mother, and a caring coworker. She was trying to be a kind friend and bring her car around when a man, delusionally both in love with her and desiring to murder her, got into her car and drove her off to kill her. It is as disturbing and terrible as it gets.
I hope the man who killed her is dead, or locked up for some other crime. It makes me sick to think he is still out there, living his life.
Rest in peace, Dorothy.