“Pima County Jane Doe” Identified as Brenda Marie Gerow

True Crime Mysteries (Megan)

Her photo was found in the wallet of a convicted killer

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Brenda Gerow (Image courtesy of Pima County Sheriff's Dept.)

On April 8th, 1981, a young woman’s body was found near the Pima County fairgrounds in Arizona by a group riding off-road vehicles. Her body had been dumped along a dirt road. Detectives said it appeared the woman had been sexually assaulted and suffered a violent death.

She had been in the desert for a couple of days before being discovered. Police could find no identification for the young woman. She was described as blond with delicate facial features, eighteen-twenty years old, five foot three, and a small frame.

She wore a navy blue blouse with reddish-colored puff sleeves with a floral design, blue jeans, white socks with pompoms, and brown suede shoes.

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Image courtesy of Pima County Sheriff's Dept.

Two jackets were found near her body, one a blue denim with red and white stripes on the cuffs and collar and the other a blue rain jacket.

They did a sketch of the woman, but no one came forward, and she was given the name “Pima County Jane Doe.” For three decades, that was all she was known as.

In 2012, detectives decided to reopen her investigation and gather new DNA evidence. Her body was exhumed, and investigators also took the opportunity to create a 3D rendering of her skull to understand better what she may have looked like.

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3D rendering (image courtesy of Pima County Sheriff's Dept.)

In 2014, it was determined that the reconstruction closely matched a potential unknown victim from an inmate in Arizona, John Kalhauser, who was serving twenty-six years and had taken a “no contest plea” regarding his wife’s disappearance. The photograph had been in his wallet when he was arrested, and he would never reveal who the young woman was.

Law enforcement paired the photograph with the reconstruction and sent it through social media all over the country, hoping someone would recognize her.

Eventually, cold case detectives contacted Bill Gerow, who thought the reconstruction might be his sister. He wanted to get ruled out, still hoping his beloved sister was still alive.

Twenty-year-old Brenda Gerow had been missing since 1981. Originally from Nashua, New Hampshire, she had left on a road trip with her boyfriend, John Kalhauser.

Bill and Brenda had grown up in foster care, and they were all each other had for family. Brenda was a few years older than he was, and he remembered how mad he was when Brenda told him she was going to California. He didn’t want to be left behind, but Brenda assured him she wasn’t going to abandon him.

The two had kept in contact for a few weeks after she left. She first called him from New Mexico, and she sent him an envelope of turquoise. Her last call had been from Arizona, where she had seemed upset and told Bill she was coming home. When he asked what was wrong, she didn’t say. It had been a short call, but she told him she loved him before hanging up.

That was the last time Bill spoke to his sister. The envelope of turquoise she had mailed him arrived several weeks later.

Over the years, Bill had made several attempts to find his sister but law enforcement didn’t file a police report believing she wasn’t a missing person. Another attempt informed him that they had made contact with Brenda and that she didn’t want to be in contact with him, which had crushed him.

To now know that after all the years, she had been deceased was heartbreaking, but Brenda hadn’t willingly left him behind.

DNA confirmed Pima County Jane Doe was Brenda, and law enforcement brought that to John Kalhauser, who refused to acknowledge he knew Brenda.

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John Kalhauser, Arizona Department of Corrections

Bill said that he nor Brenda knew he was a convicted murderer. He served seven years in prison for killing a man when he was only seventeen. He had also shot the lover of his fiance in 1979. That man had survived three gunshot wounds, and Kalhauser had been charged with armed assault with intent to murder. He was out on bond when he met Brenda.

They met in a bar that Brenda was working at. Eventually, he convinced her to take a trip with him to California, but what he didn’t tell her was that he was skipping out on parole.

Bill remembered his final goodbye to Brenda. She had jumped on the back of Kalhauser’s motorcycle, and the two set off.

John Kalhauser stayed in Arizona. He started going by the name Donald Stecchi, which had been the name of a classmate. He married Diane van Reeth, and the couple had two children together.

In 1995, Diane filed for divorce and sole custody of her children. On August 10th, 1995, Diane left home for work and was never seen again. Kalhauser was arrested regarding her disappearance, where it was discovered he was going by an assumed name. When law enforcement connected him to his real name, they found the warrant in Massachusetts for his arrest.

He was extradited to Massachusetts to serve twenty-nine years for the assault on his former fiance’s boyfriend. He was also charged with Diane’s murder in 1999, and her body was never found.

Kalhauser is scheduled for release in 2025. Authorities are building a case against Kalhauser for the murder of Brenda Gerow. Anyone with information is asked to reach out to the Gregg County Crime Stoppers.

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Sources

https://www.abc15.com/news/state/arizona-jane-john-does-identified-but-cases-still-unsolved https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3254697/New-Hampshire-woman-identified-Arizona-cold-case-victim.html https://www.inquisitr.com/4020140/brenda-gerow-ids-who-killed-jane-doe-john-kalhauser-arizona-desert-murder/

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