MONTROSE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A woman whose remains were found in the Colorado high country has been known simply as “Windy Point Jane Doe” for almost 30 years.
Now she has a name.
Forensic analysts with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation were recently able to match Hoppes’s DNA and dental records to those provided by family members when she disappeared, according to a press release written by Montrose County Sheriff Gene Lillard. Hoppes was reported missing August 9, 1993, from Pierce County Washington.
Her remains were found July 7, 1994, by a hiker exploring the Uncompahgre Plateau in southwestern Colorado. That hiker discovered the remains near Windy Point, one of the high marks of the Divide Road which cuts across the plateau about 25 miles west of Montrose.
The very next day, the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation into how and why she died.
Answers, until recently, have been few.
It was Cmdr. Ted Valerio who asked the sheriff to submit samples to CBI for analysis in August of 2020. What was described as new and advanced technology was available at that time – at a cost of about $5,000, the sheriff said.
Since that time, however, the fee has been waived.
MCSO investigators submitted letters of request to have the remains analyzed, and DNA markers entered into national databases.
In the sheriff’s words, “On April 19, 2022, I received a call from CBI Analyst and Forensic Lab and Cold Case Division’s Audrey Simkins who asked me if I was ready for some really, really good news. Analyst Simkins told me that the results came back with a positive ID of Windy Point Jane.”
Montrose investigators believe Hoppes was murdered. In fact, CBI’s online cold case profile of “Windy Point Jane Doe” says she was probably brought to Windy Point after her death.
The cause of her death hasn’t been determined. But MCSO Cmdr. Valerio left Colorado on May 10 for Washington state in order to gather information and meet with investigators there, Sheriff Lillard noted.
“It is truly remarkable that technology was able to give closure to the family of Susan Hoppes and to all that was (sic) involved in the case,” the sheriff wrote. “It has always been a goal to determine who she was and what actually happened to her. It has taken a huge team effort and a lots of cooperation from multiple law enforcement agencies, the Montrose County Coroner’s Office, as well as the private investigation sector from the State of Washington to get where we are at today.”