The Night of The Dissapearance
Dorothy Jane Scott disappeared from the UC Irvine Medical Center in the early morning hours of May 28, 1980. While attending an employee meeting where she worked at the Swinger’s Psych Shop and Custom John’s Head Shop in Anaheim, California, she noticed her coworker, Conrad Bostron was acting strange. His arm was swollen and he had a raised, inflamed bug-bite. Dorothy insisted on taking Conrad to the hospital to have the bite looked at because she was concerned it was infected or poisonous. Another coworker, Pam Head, who was 18 at the time, offered to accompany them to the hospital.
On the way to the hospital, Dorothy made a quick stop at her parents’ house, where she dropped off her son, Shawn. Four-year-old Shanti, who Dorothy called “Shawn,” had gone to the employee meeting with his mother that evening. Original reports and articles state that she stopped by the house to check on her son, who was already at her parents’ house. However, a recent interview with Pam Head by Anthony Shurlock (crimeblogger1983.blogspot.com) revealed that Shawn was actually at the meeting with his mom. This better explains why she would stop by her parents’ house on the way to the hospital instead of just calling them from work to tell them she would be late picking up Shawn. Her parents, Jacob and Vera Scott, were more than happy to keep their grandson while Dorothy did what she did best – help others. While at the house, her mother convinced her to change out the black scarf she was wearing for a warmer red scarf. It’s May in California, so I’m not sure what the temperature would have been like after sunset. A quick google search states it can get into the 50s at night, which is pretty chilly. So maybe she figured it would be cold in the hospital as well, and decided to opt for a warmer scarf to ward off the cold. You may be thinking why does it matter what scarf she was wearing – but this point will become crucial later.
Once at the hospital, Pam and Dorothy watch TV and flip through magazines while they wait for Conrad to finish being seen. Pam Head will state in later interviews that Dorothy never left her sight the entire time they were waiting. He was finally discharged at 11 p.m., and it was discovered that he was bitten by a black widow spider. Good call on Dorothy’s part to insist he be seen by doctors. Conrad was given a prescription to treat the bite.
Dorothy offered to bring her car, a white 1973 Toyota station wagon, to the front of the hospital so Conrad wouldn’t have to walk any distance, given the circumstances. He and Pam Head have the prescription filled while they wait for Dorothy to bring the car around. When the pair walked outside to meet Dorothy, she wasn’t there. They wait for a few minutes, and when she doesn’t show up, they decide to walk to the parking lot. While walking out to the lot, they see a car matching Dorothy’s description speed past them. They wave to get the attention of who they believe to be Dorothy, but the car doesn’t slow down. The car runs the stop sign at the exit and takes off down the road. Sources say they waited two hours for her to come back, but Pam doesn’t refer to this in her interviews. After the car doesn’t return, she says they call Dorothy’s parents’ house to see if she had returned home. The employees of the two businesses were very familiar with Dorothy’s father, Jacob – he used to own the head shop where they all worked and still did odd jobs at the business as needed. Employees knew him well, and would have known his phone number to call when he was needed. Pam has a bad feeling about the situation and decides to call police and alert them of what happened. She said she couldn’t tell if police took her seriously or not, but they did come and check out the scene. There wasn’t any evidence that alarmed them enough to consider the possibility of foul play. How is this NO cause for alarm? She is perfectly content in waiting for Conrad for an extended amount of time while he’s in the emergency room, offers to bring the car sound to pick them up at the front of the building but then erratically takes off with no warning? Why would she agree to take him to the hospital if she had a prior engagement or something? And if she did get concerned about the time and leaving her child with her parents, wouldn’t she let her coworkers know she needed to get back home instead of stranding them with no warning? She doesn’t seem like the type of person to just bail on someone in need. In the interview with Anthony Shurlock, Pam said that she actually wasn’t sure if it was Pam’s car that they saw leave the parking lot. She also said the headlights were NOT on. But in the interview on the Paula Zahn episode, she once again says the headlights were on? In early newspapers, it was said that there was a car parked in front of Dorothy’s car in the parking lot.
About 4 hours later, around 4:30 a.m, a resident called the police to report smoke in an alleyway. Dorothy Scott’s car was found in the alley, engulfed in flames. There was no sign of Dorothy or anyone else. Sergeant Bob Taft, the current cold case investigator assigned to Dorothy’s case, said that it was evident that whoever left the vehicle there was in a hurry. The headlights were still on and the driver’s side door was open. A gas canister was found in the trunk of Dorothy’s car, and it was determined that an accelerant had been put on the passenger side of the car. The outer front of the car was left pretty much intact, but the interior of the car was completely destroyed.
Dorothy was 32 at the time of her disappearance. She was a single mother with a 4-year-old boy named Shanti, who she called “Shawn.” Dorothy lived with her Aunt in Stanton, California, which is a 20 minute drive from her parents’ house in Anaheim and her job as a bookkeeper at the jointly-owned stores (Swinger’s Psych Shop and Custom John’s Head Shop). The shops were owned by John Kycola, who purchased the businesses from Dorothy’s father.
Her son Shawn’s, father is Dennis Terry, who was living in Fairgrove, Missouri at the time. Dorothy was really quiet about their relationship. She had been touring with an all girls’ band for a while and it sounds like she was in this relationship and had Shawn while she wasn’t living in Anaheim. When she moved back home, she really didn’t speak much about the situation. He had been in town visiting a few days prior to the incident. Interestingly, Dorothy and Terry had gotten into a pretty heated argument because Terry wanted custody of Shawn. Because Dorothy had full custody of him for the previous 4 years, he was now asking for full custody of him for the next four years. Dorothy completely shut down the idea, and it caused a huge argument between the two of them. Honestly I think it’s great that Shawn’s dad wanted to be a bigger part of his life, but the instability and confusion that would come with uprooting a child from the only parent he’s known would negatively impact him in a huge way. It sounds like the real discussion probably should have been where the two parents were living, and if they could come up with an arrangement that would make joint custody a better option. Outside of her history with Shawn’s father, Dorothy was known to be quiet and preferred to stay home and spend time with her son and family. She was a devout Christian and didn’t drink or smoke. Her father, Jacob, said that she didn’t have any steady boyfriends or go on dates very often. She didn’t seem to have any romantic relationships or ex’s at the time of her disappearance. According to Anothony Shurlock’s blog, new resources have become available saying Dorothy may have been bisexual, but this fact really has no impact on the case. Needless to say, she didn’t seem to be dating anyone at the time of her death.
A few months before tragedy struck, in October of 1979, Dorothy began receiving strange phone calls while at work and home. She told her mother, Vera, about the calls, saying that the voice sounded familiar but she couldn’t place where she knew him from. The calls varied from loving to threatening. On one occasion close to when she disappeared, she received a call from the stalker telling her he had a present for her and to go outside to see it. He had left a single dead rose on the hood of her car. As time passed, Dorothy started to grow more fearful of her safety at home and work. One coworker even reported that Dorothy had moved three times between October 1979 and May 1980, after the calls began. The stalker seemed to be very aware of her schedule, where she would be, when, and even what she was wearing on certain days. This freak of nature even told her one day he would get her alone and “cut her into bits so no one would ever find her.” At this point, Dorothy considered buying a handgun for protection, but feared her young son would get a hold of it somehow and hurt himself. She started taking karate lessons a week before her disappearance to learn how to defend herself.
Returning to the Scene of the Crime
Police looked around at the area where her car was parked in the parking lot. They found a pack of Marlboro cigarettes and a box of tissues on the ground where her car was parked. While these items could have fallen out of her car, it was known that Dorothy didn’t smoke, so chances of the cigarettes belonging to her are pretty slim. Police didn’t see these items as proof of foul play, which makes sense. After Dorothy’s obvious abduction at the hospital, Dorothy’s father, Jacob, worked closely with Irvine police after the disappearance of his daughter and the burning of her vehicle. They decided to keep the case quiet, as to not give too much information away that could give those weirdos in the general public anything to use to taunt the family and investigators. Jacob Scott and Dorothy’s brother, Jim Scott, went together to look at the remains of Dorothy’s car. Jim said that it was heart wrenching and so hard to see her vehicle completely destroyed like that. About a week after Dorothy’s disappearance, the Scotts received a phone call at their home. When Vera (Dorothy’s mother) answered the phone, the caller asked, “Are you related to Dorothy Scott?” When she replied yes, the caller simply said, “I’ve got her,” and hung up.
Two weeks and no leads later, Jacob decided to take the news of his daughter to the local newspaper. The Santa Ana Register ran the story of Dorothy’s disappearance and what happened to her vehicle on Thursday, June 11, 1980. They also offered a $2,500 reward for anyone with information regarding what happened to Dorothy. The same day, the managing editor of the Santa Ana Register, Pat Riley, received a call while sitting in the newsroom. The caller said that he had kidnapped Dorothy Jane Scott. Riley stated that the caller said “She was my love….I caught her cheating with another man. She denied having someone else – I killed her.” Riley said that he felt the man was genuine, and this wasn’t a hoax caller. He also said the man shared information about the kidnapping that wasn’t known to the general public. The man said he knew Dorothy was at the hospital with a coworker who had a spider bite, and that she was wearing a red scarf. He also said Dorothy had called him that night to tell him she was at the medical center. But Pam Head had told investigators that Dorothy had never left her side while they were at the hospital. The only time they were separated was when Dorothy went to use the restroom and grab her car to pick them up in front of the building. Could she have called someone when she stopped at her parents’ house briefly? Maybe she talked to someone from the phone at their place of work before leaving to go to the hospital? There are other explanations, but no one recalls hearing or knowing of a conversation she had with someone else.
There are theories that her stalker/killer could have been another coworker and that’s how the person knew where she was that night. But without being with her when she made the stop home, how would they have known she changed her scarf? Someone who hadn’t been there at the end of the evening would not have known that Conrad had been diagnosed with a black widow spider bite, either. Maybe her stalker confronted her in the parking lot and was mad because she was with another man, so she explained to him why she was there and what happened in an attempt to de-escalate the situation. It’s not like today where she could have been in contact with anyone at any time while she was sitting in the hospital waiting for her friend to come out. Sergeant Taft said that editor said the person on the phone sounded Southern and possibly black – which I’m not sure how they could identify the color of a person’s skin from the sound of their voice? I think that’s drawing conclusions that aren’t necessarily there. But Taft said that this description did not at all match with what the description of the caller who had previously called Dorothy or her parents. Police tended to believe the caller at the newsroom was a hoax, because at this point information about Dorothy’s whereabouts were known to the general public. Though the caller did know specific things about what Dorothy was wearing that night that hadn’t been released.
As if the Scott’s didn’t have enough to deal with, the calls from the mysterious man continued almost every Wednesday afternoon for FOUR years. Police even installed a recording device to monitor the calls and try to determine where they were coming from, but the caller never stayed on the line long enough to be traced. The man’s voice was described as gruff and plainly disguised. The recordings have never been released to the public, with good reason. The man on the line only interacted with the Scott’s when Vera answered – and she seemed to be the only one who answered every time he called.
Was Jacob at work? If this was so consistent, why didn’t Jacob ever stay home to witness these calls and try to talk to the man?– Thoughts while researching the case
In April of 1984, Jacob finally did answer the phone when the man called one evening. He immediately hung up and the calls stopped. The caller would always just say that he had Dorothy or that he had killed her. The fact that the caller would never talk to Jacob leads me (and probably others) to theorize that the man was someone Jacob may have known. Maybe the caller was afraid that Jacob would recognize who he was.
This continued for four long years. No new information in the disappearance of Dorothy Jane Scott. Her parents agonizing over whether their daughter was alive or dead, while taking care of her growing son. I can’t even imagine the torture of not knowing what happened to your child while being tormented every week by the man who probably kiled her. I wonder if Vera answered the phone every week or if there were ever times she refused to pick up. What would happen if she didn’t answer? Would the man just keep calling until she did?
Everything turned upside down on August 6, 1984, when a foreman of a construction company who was preparing to dig a trench for Pacific Bell Telephone lines, found the charred remains of a dog off of Santa Ana Canyon Road. Upon further investigation, human remains were also found. The foreman told a newspaper that he had joked just minutes prior with his backhoe operator about “watching out for dead bodies.” I want to note that these were partial remains and the complete skeleton was not discovered. However, a human skull was found and dental records confirmed that these were the remains of Dorothy Jane Scott. A turquoise ring and a small wristwatch were also found near her body. Dorothy’s mother, Vera, identified them as belonging to her daughter. Investigators are unsure of what the connection is between the dog and Dorothy, or how long the dog had been there. Theories circle that the dog could have belonged to the killer, who decided to bury the dog there with Dorothy when it passed. Which does hold weight. I doubt the dog was next to Dorothy by pure accident. Anthony Shurlock actually does not believe that the place Dorothy was found is where she was left. The remains were found near a hilly area, so it is definitely possible that Dorothy was left higher up, and rain and erosion caused the bones to move over time. This could also explain why there was a dog found with her.
Dorothy’s remains were slightly charred due to a brushfire that had swept through that area in 1982. This factor, along with how long the body had been in the woods, made it impossible to determine what her cause of death was. In an eerie twist, Vera said that Dorothy’s watch had stopped at 12:30 a.m. on March 29, 1980, just an hour after she was seen alive. This can’t be a coincidence. My gut reaction to this information was that the killer stopped her watch when she died. I’m sure many people believe this theory.
Though relieved to have finally found their daughter, the Scotts were not granted reprieve for long. Shortly after the discovery of Dorothy’s remains, they began receiving calls again. The caller asked, “Is Dorothy home?” before ending one of his calls. I’m not sure how long the calls continued after this.
Unfortunately, Dorothy’s parents would not get any more answers about what happened to their daughter. Jacob died on May 24, 1994. Vera died eight years later in 2002. Dorothy’s son, Shawn, grew up in a good of a circumstance as one can hope, given his childhood. He’s still searching for justice for his mother. He said that what happened to his mom completely destroyed Vera and ruined the rest of her life. She was never the same.
Shawn’s father – Dennis Terry
Police were quick to question Shawn’s father in the connection with her disappearance. Because of their recent argument about custody of Shawn, it’s always possible that his anger and desire to have custody of his son led Dennis Terry to get Dorothy out of the way. It’s also noted that there was no screaming or yelling heard when Dorothy was abducted from the hospital, which could mean that she was familiar with whoever took her. There was no proof connecting Dennis to her disappearance, though. And he claimed to be on a two-day bus trip back to Missouri when everything took place. He did provide receipts for the trip, and several witnesses reported seeing him getting on and off the bus at his intended destination in Missouri. I also saw it reported that he had called Dorothy’s parents’ house from his home in Missouri the day of the kidnapping, and that Dorothy’s father talked to him on the phone later that day to inform him of the kidnapping. So the likelihood of him being involved is slim to none.
Mike Butler was a known acquaintance of Dorothy’s. He worked at an auto body shop across the street from where Dorothy worked at Swinger’s Psych Shop and Custom John’s Head Shop. Anthony Shurlock also reported that Butler was the brother of one of Dorothy’s coworkers. Both things can be true. Dorothy and Mike were friendly, but never had any sort of romantic involvement. It was known that Mike did have a bit of an infatuation with Dorothy and even told police when he was questioned after her disappearance that he wanted to marry her. Which is quite the statement to make about a missing woman to a police investigator. Because Mike worked across the street and saw her fairly often, he would have been familiar with her work schedule and probably saw what she was wearing on a normal basis. So this explains how the stalker knew so much about her comings and goings. It was also said that Butler was unstable and involved in occult activity? Some theorize that this brings more clarity around why there was a dog found with Dorothy’s remains. Maybe it was some sort of ritual? But obviously the police must not have found Mike Butler to be a solid lead, because he was never investigated further. Sergeant Taft expressed a desire to question him again regarding the case, but that will never happen because Butler died in 2014.
John Kycola owned and managed the stores where Dorothy worked as a bookkeeper. According to Anthony Shurlock, he apparently OWNED the land where Dorothy’s remains were found. If he did kill her and leave her there, he probably assumed that animals or mother nature would take care of the rest and she would never be found, again. He probably didn’t think about nature slowly sliding them down the hill closer to the road. He was also one of the few people that knew where Dorothy was going that night. Years after Dorothy’s death, in 1996, John Kycola was indicted on federal charges relating to tax evasion. Could it be possible that Dorothy figured out something was amiss when working the books? And when John realized she knew what he was up to – he killed her? Shurlock believes that if John knew Dorothy was onto him, he started calling Dorothy and making her believe she had a stalker who was obsessed with her in a passionate way. Shurlock believes that perhaps the caller wanted everyone to believe it was a crime of passion so badly that this explains why he continued to call for years after she disappeared. And then they suddenly stopped when Jacob answered the phone. Like I said earlier, maybe the caller knew Jacob and didn’t want him to hear his voice. John and Jacob knew each other very well, so that could explain why he hung up when Jacob answered the phone. He said he had other details that led him to believe John Kycola may have been more involved, but wouldn’t give any other information. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for what he updates with next.
The case is still currently being investigated and there are no new leads. Shawn, Dorothy’s now grown son, said during his interview with Paula Zahn, “To grow up without a mom, to not know what it’s like to experience life with a mom, it’s not fair.” Dorothy’s brother, Jim, still keeps a picture of Dorothy on his desk and says he thinks about her every day. You can tell he is still deeply impacted by the loss.
On the Case with Paula Zahn: Web of Torment
Anthony Shurlock’s blog posts:
Los Angeles Times | June 14, 1980
The Freelance Star | August 20, 1984