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14-year-old girl murdered in Walker County in 1980 finally has a name

The victim found strangled near Huntsville was called "Walker County Jane Doe" for four decades. Turns out she was a runaway from Minnesota.

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — For 41 years, her identity has been a mystery. A girl found strangled on the side of the highway near Huntsville, Texas in 1980 became known as "Walker County Jane Doe."

Now, the victim finally has a name. Fourteen-year-old Sherri Anne Jarvis was a runaway from Stillwater, Minnesota, the Walker County Sheriff said Tuesday.

Othram, a lab in The Woodlands, used brain tissue to identify her. 

"We ended up doing is narrowing in on a piece of evidence, a tissue block that was preserved during autopsy," explained Dr. David Mittelman with Othram.

The tissue produced a DNA profile that investigators used to build a family tree.

We first shared Sherri's story in 2017 because Sheriff Clint McRae thought the case might be connected to other murders. He said Tuesday that's still a possibility.

"We want this information out there, we want to re-spark this investigation with the public and bring it back to life," the sheriff said.

Investigators say Sherri was last seen alive at a truck stop near Huntsville where she asked employees for directions. Her body was found on Nov. 1, 1980.

The unsolved case haunted detectives because the victim was so young.

Family members are grateful to finally have answers. They say Sherri's parents passed away never knowing what happened to their daughter after she ran away.

"She was a daughter, sister, cousin and granddaughter. We love and miss you, Sherri. May you rest in peace," a statement from the family said.

Not much is known about how Sherri ended up outside in Texas.

Sheriff McRae said investigators never gave up hope of solving the case 

"It's always been an ongoing investigation," Sheriff Clint McRae said. "She has always been a top priority," Sheriff McRae said. "We loved her too."

The next step will be finding Sherri's killer.