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Updated: Nov 11, 2023

We are born to our parents. The things we see and learn are what shape our lives as we grow. We gain memories, some amazing ones and some not so pleasant. Sometimes we store the unpleasant ones in a separate part of our brains, hoping to never access them. One day you wake up and something is different, suddenly one of your parents, your mother, is no longer in the picture. You ask questions but you are told that your mother didn’t want to be one anymore and left. You are repeatedly told that so much you start to believe it but hang on to hope, maybe one day, she will walk back through that door. Somehow you make the best of it and that parent is now a distant memory. Life goes on without her and days turn into weeks and weeks into years before you know it decades have passed. As an adult, you start to question things and dig deep into your memory. You remember that night, although just a small child then, those eyes recall what was seen and you relive that moment all those years ago, over, and over. Not knowing where to start, you wait, until one day you are scrolling on social media like we all do day in and day out. Only to have a sketch of yourself staring back at you. Today’s story covers a disappearance of a young mother and her daughter’s endless fight for the truth to be told.

First, I would like to thank Suzanne for speaking with me and trusting me to write about her mother's story. It's a confusing one, with many mind scratching decisions, and even more coincidences. Through it all she is still fighting, not to find her mother, because she believes her mother was found decades ago. She is fighting to prove she found her. She wants the world to know, and I am happy to help.

Patricia Otto was born on August 4, 1952, to her parents Thomas and Ardys O’Malley. She grew up in Lewiston, Idaho with three siblings. Patty had two sisters and one brother, all of which still reside in Lewiston today. Patty grew up in a working class, respectable family. Her father was a World War II veteran and was a firefighter for the Lewiston Fire department and was a revered community member. Her mother was an accounting clerk. Patty graduated from high school, and it was during high school when Patty met her future husband, Ralph Otto. They were not high school sweethearts however, far from it. When Patty was 16, she met Ralph in the neighborhood, he was looking for a babysitter for his then girlfriend’s children. Patty accepted the job as babysitter. It wouldn’t be too long before Patty was being romanced and charmed by Ralph, who was 18 years her senior. Ralph took a romantic interest in Patty and quickly began buying her gifts to flatter her, even purchasing a Thunderbird for her. Because Ralph’s business as heavy equipment contactor, he made tons of money to lavish Patty. Although Patty was smitten with Ralph, her parents were not fond of him, but they felt they needed to support their daughter and who she wanted to be with. Once Patty turned 18, she became engaged to Ralph. They would wed in the fall of 1970. Ralph and Patty had two daughters together, Natalie and Dallas.

Their marriage was a rocky one though, as Ralph was described as a controlling and abusive partner. Ralph also dealt with alcoholism, which Patty understandably didn’t like. In the spring of 1976, Patty was at her breaking point with Ralph and how he treated her, and she decided it was best to separate. She filed for divorce in the spring of 1976. She moved out of the home she shared with Ralph and rented her own apartment, and briefly dated a guy she went to school with named Randy. In an attempt to win Patty back, Ralph checked into a rehabilitation center for his alcoholism. By the time he completed treatment, Patty was contacted by the treatment facility, because she was still legally his wife, she was supposed to come back home and help her husband stay on the right track. She tried to help him but by the late summer of 1976 the household was in turmoil again. Ralph didn’t change, his behavior and would physically assault Patty. On the day of August 31,1976, Patty had a class that evening, and because of this, Patty brought her children over to her parents’ house. Patty didn’t trust Ralph with the children by himself while she was in school. Sometime that evening Ralph became suspicious of Patty. Her class was taking longer than usual, and he quickly assumed she must be with Randy. Ralph drove down to the local pub and asked for Randy and proceeded to flash a gun at the bartender. The police were called but he downed his beer and quickly made an exit before they arrived. Shortly after he ended up back home, just waiting for Patty to come home. When she arrived, she put the girls to sleep in the basement of the home. They were soon woken up by their parents arguing. Dallas remembers being a curious little three-year-old and climbing the steps to peak out and peer through the railings on the banister just enough to see what was going on. Frightened by witnessing her mother being choked by her father against the wall, he then dragged her out of sight, Dallas ran back down the stairs to her sister and told her what she witnessed and how scared she was. Natalie, being the protective big sister, put her arms around Dallas and comforted her, as they both would fall back asleep. To this day the fight she witnessed between her mother and father is sadly the only memory she has of her mother.

The following day came and passed, and when the children asked their father where their mother was, Ralph always seemed to have an answer. He claimed she left that night and had left them. On September 2, 1976, Patty’s sister, Alice, filed a missing person’s report on her sister. When Patty was reported missing this is the same story Ralph would also give the police except for she left with another man. Police did search around the Otto property for anything that might be suspicious, understandably doubting Ralph’s story but there was no evidence to prove any foul play came to Patty. In the meantime, they would try and locate Patty and keep an eye on Ralph. Life for the girls officially changed and they started staying with their Aunt Alice. In October of 1976, Ralph Otto was arrested for attempted murder for attempting to hire a hit man to kill the lead investigator on his wife’s missing case. Ralph spent 4 years in prison, but with money and a great attorney, Ralph walked free when the conviction was overturned in 1981. Once out of jail he scooped up his daughters but soon found out how hard it was going to be to be a single father. Realizing the burden was too much to handle, he dropped the girls off at his sister’s house. In 1983, Ralph would be arrested again on charges unrelated to Patty's disappearance and would die of cardiac arrest while in custody. The children stayed with their aunt and uncle, who would be their primary provider, later adopting them. This is when Dallas became Suzanne. Her aunt told her that she was no longer going to be Otto. At a young age and not understanding why her last name would change but not her first, her aunt gave her permission to also change her first name to whatever she wanted. Suzanne stuck and these days she is known as Suzanne Timms. In a few years Ralph would find himself back in prison on an unrelated charge and he would have a heart attack in prison and was declared dead. Now Natalie and Suzanne were without both biological parents. Luckily, they were raised with loving and caring people, and they still regularly saw Patty’s parents, but one condition was set when Patty vanished and that was that they could not speak about Patty to the children, ever. This was set by Ralph but would remain in place after his death.

Decades later when the sisters were adults, they started digging into what could have happened to their mother that night. Natalie was more invested during this period of time simply because she had more time to do so. Suzanne’s life was constantly busy but would listen to anything her sister had uncovered. Sadly, Natalie would pass away and that is when Suzanne took the lead. During her down time, she would browse the internet for possible Jane Doe’s. She would follow missing persons pages and unidentified people pages, hoping to catch a glimpse of anything that was familiar. Dead end after dead end, Suzanne was tired and defeated, she fully believed she would never know what happened to her mother after the last time she saw her in the hands of Ralph. Unbeknownst to Suzanne someone was also strolling the internet and social media for a missing person that could match a Jane Doe that was found in Oregon in 1978 known as the Finley Creek Jane Doe.

It was in 2021 when Suzanne was scrolling through Facebook when she came across a sketch that was of a woman. The woman on the screen was staring back at her. This was not a picture of her, but it could have been. Suzanne said, “I thought it was a joke, and someone drew a picture of me”. Confused by this image Suzanne dug deeper. There she found out that the sketch that was created by a man in Massachusetts, Anthony Redgrave. Anthony is founder of Redgrave Research. This company is a DNA and genealogy based and they also draw composite sketches. In 2020 Anthony Redgrave received photos from two researchers in Oregon. The researchers, named Mel and Jason, were investigating a cold case, of a Jane Doe found decades earlier. There was one major problem. She had no remains. She hoped to give Anthony a photo of a skull, he could recreate an image of what Finley Creek Jane Doe would have looked like back in 1978 or prior. This is where the story can get confusing so sit tight and buckle up.

Mel had a case file, and this file was full of paperwork and pictures of the skeletonized remains that were found in 1978. The only reason Mel was able to access this file was because the state deemed her case closed in 1990. Mel uncovered that in 1990 the state of Oregon destroyed all remnants of the remains during a cremation. An Oregon state trooper found them in evidence and called the district attorney, Russ West. No, this was not a mistake. Without even identifying who Jane Doe was and who could be missing her, they destroyed all of what was left of her, leaving it impossible to identify her today. Mel was hoping through from photographs of the skull, Anthony could recreate an image of what the female may have looked like in life. Anthony was happy to help. The final sketch was distributed all over the internet and she was dubbed The Finley Creek Jane Doe.

Finley Creek Jane Doe was found just outside of La Grande, Oregon in August of 1978. The female was found buried in a shallow grave that was eventually discovered by two hunters. In the early morning of August 27,1978, two hunters along with their children from Milton Freewater, Oregon were hunting at the Finley Creek Cow Camp. One of the hunters, Ron Swiger, stumbled upon the remains, seeing a skull protruding from the ground. There were some other bones found nearby. Investigators with the Oregon State Police arrived at the scene and interviewed the hunters. In September 1978, a press conference was held by Oregon State Police announcing the findings. It was estimated that Jane Doe died 1975–1976-time frame. They also made a shocking discovery as it was revealed that the Jane Doe was possibly pregnant at the time she died and was buried. There was also animal activity with the remains, which explained the scatter, but they were also missing some bones. There were many tips to who Jane Doe could have been, and the parents of Patricia Otto got word of the discovery in Idaho. They flew in and were able to give her dental x-rays to the investigator so he could provide these to a team that conducted any matches. Patty’s parents were sure it was their daughter and told the Lewiston detective this. Jane Doe was found wearing red pants and a white blouse, the same clothing they had seen their daughter the last time they laid eyes on her. The same items that Jane Doe was found to be wearing when she was unearthed. The next day, to their dismay, the results came back to Patty’s parents as not being a match to Finley Creek Doe. They would be back at square one looking for their daughter.

When Suzanne seen the sketch of Finley Creek Jane Doe, she reached out to Mel and Jason. Suzanne now realized the sketch was not that of her but of her missing mother, Patricia Otto. There was a major coincidence to this research that Suzanne uncovered. The hunters that found the grave containing Jane Doe was with a boy. A boy Suzanne knew to be her father-in-law. Yes, you read that right, her now husband is the son of the boy that was with the hunters that grim day Jane Doe was discovered.

Mel told Suzanne that Patty Otto was ruled out as the Finley Creek Jane Doe. Mel had even seen the rule out on the highly reliable Doe Network. Patty was ruled out in 1978, when her parents had flown in from Idaho with their daughters’ dental records to Oregon. However, Suzanne found it odd that they seemed to have the wrong dentals on file for Patty. Looking into this further the team quickly discovered there had to be a mix-up with the dental records. The dentals the examiner compared Patty’s to were not that of Finley Creek Jane Doe but of another young woman who was found the same year dubbed Portland Jane Doe. This Jane Doe was later identified as Annette Willis. Quickly they were able to point out what the mistake was. Patty’s dental records showed erupted wisdom teeth but the file that ruled Patty out from Finley Creek Jane Doe noted “unerupted” wisdom teeth, which can only mean he compared someone else’s and not Patty’s. It was an honest mistake, right? Well possibly however, the medical examiner at the time, Dr. William Brady, is nothing less than shady and hid his checkered past. He was fired from his ME job because he was caught harvesting and selling parts of the human bodies that came into his lab. There is no telling what else Brady was a part of or what purposeful actions he took just because he could. Thankfully, we no longer have to worry about his practices.

Today, in 2023, Suzanne along with Mel and her team rally around her. They also believe Patty is Finley Creek Jane Doe. The only question is how they go about proving it. Suzanne has begged someone to compare her mother’s dentals to Finley Creek Jane Doe’s, but she keeps getting turned away because in 1978, William Brady ruled her out as being Jane Doe. The state will only overturn the rule-out if someone can provide them with DNA to compare to Suzanne’s. Which is ironic considering the only DNA they would have had the state destroyed. There is one thing Suzanne can do and she has been determined to do it. In Finley Creek Jane Doe’s file there were some notable bones missing from the skeleton. Fingers, arm, but most importantly the pelvic bone. There have been teams that have gone back to the site where Jane Doe laid all those decades ago to try and find these missing bones. She holds out hope that everything that has happened and every coincidence that has fallen in her lap, she will find the missing piece to give Finley Creek Jane Doe her name back.

What happened to Patricia Otto on August 31, 1976? It appears Patty thought about throwing the towel in again on her marriage. Ralph was not keeping up with his sobriety and began drinking again. To top it off with his reaction to her being out later than normal, showing his controlling behavior once again. She believed she tried everything she could with and for him. She knew her worth and what she deserved in life and Ralph was not it. On the night of August 31, 1976, she left her class and arrived at her parents’ house to pick up the children. Once home, she knew she and Ralph might argue, that is why she put her children to bed in the basement, hoping the fighting wouldn’t wake them. What Suzanne witnessed that night was not a dream, and she had many flashbacks of it. For many years she was told Patty left and didn’t want to be a mother to her anymore. When she realized that was untrue, she started down a path, a path she didn’t know where it would lead but it all started with a mirror image.

Patricia/Finley Creek Jane Doe/Suzanne

Please like and follow the Facebook page Suzanne has set up for her mother's case.

Follow the Facebook page for Finley Creek Jane Doe

Link for Dr. William Brady

Redgrave Research website

The Unfound podcast


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13. Juni 2023
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Fantastic article! Thank you!!

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13. Juni 2023
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Excellent article! Thank you for sharing this case to help bring answers despite Oregon closing her unsolved homicide!

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