BY MIKE McCARTHY | MIRROR EDITOR — The Maumee Police Division has reopened the cold case file of a young woman who was brutally murdered in her Maumee apartment 45 years ago.
Maumee Police Det. Christopher Rutledge was assigned to the case last October, after the victim’s son, now in his mid-50s, contacted Maumee Police Chief Josh Sprow and asked him to reopen the investigation in the interest of justice for his late mother.
Jane Jordan, 31, was employed by the Toledo Jeep assembly plant and was a resident at the Lake View Shores Apartments, at 2039 Key St. in Maumee, during October 1977.
When Jordan failed to show up to work for a period of three days and did not answer her telephone, one of the foremen at the Toledo Jeep plant asked Robert Tille, a co-worker of Jordan’s, if he would stop by her apartment to check on her well-being. Along the way, Tille was joined by another Jeep co-worker, Raymond Luce Jr.
The two men visited the Lake View Shores apartment complex on the evening of Tuesday, October 18 and tried to summon Jordan by pressing her apartment door buzzer.
When there was no response to their repeated attempts with the door buzzer, the two men managed to get one of the neighbors to buzz them into the building. According to their statements, the two men approached Jordan’s apartment and found the door unlocked.
The men reported that they entered the apartment and found a horrific scene, with Jordan’s lifeless body covered in blood. The responding Maumee police officers noted that the young woman had suffered a violent death and that there was evidence of a frantic struggle within the apartment.
It was determined by the Maumee Police Division and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) that the murder had taken place sometime between the dates of Friday, October 14 and Tuesday, October 18.
“What I can tell you is a very thorough investigation was done by my predecessors and, ultimately, they were unable to locate the offender,” Rutledge told The Mirror in a recent interview.
“A significant amount of evidence has been retained by us and is something that we still have,” Rutledge stated.
He said that the case was reopened by Maumee detectives in 2000 for another attempt at solving the murder with the possible help of DNA samples. “At that time, DNA was still relatively new,” Rutledge said. The Maumee detectives wanted to see if the newer technology could lead to any new clues.
“In 1977, DNA wasn’t a thing,” Rutledge explained. “They weren’t even thinking about that. In 2000, it was starting to be more of a practice.” Rutledge said that the detectives working the case were able to establish a suspect in 2000, but they did not have enough physical evidence to pursue this person any further.
“The detectives in 2000 did an exceptionally thorough investigation and they spent months on the case,” Rutledge said.
“The reason that the investigation is currently reopened is that the victim had two children,” Rutledge said. “She had a son and a daughter, who at the time were very small children; school-aged children, but still very young.
“Her son, who still lives in the area, called the police department on the anniversary of her murder, 45 years later. It was October 18 or 19 of 2022. He spoke with our chief and essentially requested, ‘Can you look back into this?’
“The goal is to locate the offender, but the goal also is to provide closure,” noted Rutledge.
When asked if the children were at home during the time of the murder, Rutledge said they were not.
“They were with another family member out of town, so she was alone,” he stated.
“My goal with this case is that I’m reviewing the entire case. I’m going through the file and I’m attempting to locate every name that is available to me. I am first determining if they are deceased, and I can no longer speak with them, or that they’re still around. If they’re still around, I’m attempting to locate information to get ahold of them, locate them, etc.
“If they are deceased, I am attempting to find family members that may still be around that might be able to talk to me about something,” Rutledge continued.
“Furthermore, all the evidence that we do have, I am taking down to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s cold case unit shortly. There, we are going to reintroduce and do a complete review of every physical piece of evidence that we have. Now, we have much newer technology, much more available in terms of DNA technology that we’re hoping to pursue.
“I’ve also been in touch with our partners at the FBI,” Rutledge said. “That relationship is a lot newer. I’m seeing what services they can offer, but the FBI has reached out to me and we’ve been discussing the case,” Rutledge revealed.
“So, right now, I am working with the BCI and the FBI, but more with the BCI because their lab works closely with every agency in Ohio,” the detective said. “We don’t have a state police, but BCI does state police services, and also lab services, especially for smaller agencies.
“The big agencies like Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus, they all have their own labs. I think Toledo has some form of a crime lab, but for Maumee, we don’t have our own lab. We must rely on sending all our material out to decipher DNA, fingerprints, intelligence, things like that,” Rutledge explained.
Rutledge said the closest BCI unit is in Bowling Green, on the BGSU campus.
“When I first reached out to BCI, they spoke to me about how they have a cold case team,” Rutledge said. “That’s who I’m meeting with to discuss all the evidence that we do have. The team includes DNA experts, forensic scientists, as well as special agents.
“They have a website through the Ohio Attorney General’s office for missing persons and unsolved homicides,” Rutledge said. “I submitted Jane’s information with a little synopsis that is posted publicly.”
Det. Rutledge said that he is grateful to the personnel at BCI. “They have been an asset to this case and are true professionals with their work,” he said.
“My goal is to not only go through all of the evidence we have and try to obtain DNA of our offender, but it is also to find somebody out there in (The Mirror) readership that lived in the area, that police didn’t talk to. I’m trying to elicit new information from new witnesses,” Rutledge said.
“Jane was in building 2039, which is directly contiguous to building 2037. They share a wall. I would like to hear from the folks that lived in 2037 at the time. I will say that I don’t have that information,” the detective revealed.
The victim was petite with a height of 4 feet, 11 inches, and she weighed 120 pounds. She was white with red hair and her date of birth was February 8, 1946. She was unmarried at the time of her death.
Rutledge confirmed that he has Jordan’s clothing listed among the many items of evidence from the crime scene. “Any number of things that was with her, or on her, is certainly evidence that could be reviewed,” he said.
“Back in 2000, some of these items were sent for forensic processing for DNA, but not everything, because it was very limited as to what we could do then,” the detective stated. “What we have available now is something called trace DNA. The slang term is ‘touch DNA.’
“What they teach you in Evidence 101 is that, wherever you go, and whatever you do, you leave something behind,” he explained. “That could be something like an epithelial cell, a skin cell, or hair, fluids, anything. Technology has evolved from 2000 to now to include being able to process, locate and identify trace DNA.
“That’s one of the primary goals that I have when I take everything to BCI,” said Rutledge.
It is his hope that the newly analyzed DNA samples from the crime scene will match those of an individual whose DNA has already been recorded in the national DNA databank and will ultimately reveal the identity of the killer – or killers.
When asked how long the victim had lived in the apartment building prior to her murder, Rutledge said, “I’ll describe it as short term. She was not a long-term tenant.”
When asked if there was a murder weapon and if the police had custody of such a weapon, Rutledge responded with, “I don’t want to say.”
It is also unknown if the victim had a boyfriend at the time of her murder.
In addition to this article in The Mirror, the Maumee Police Division intends to release the information on this cold case investigation on Facebook and through other media.
“My experience in law enforcement has been that social media, and the media in general, is very beneficial to eliciting information from the public,” Rutledge said.
“With the number of different cases I’ve worked throughout my career, both here and elsewhere, social media has always – always – resulted in something, some sort of information.
“Somebody knows somebody who knows something,” Rutledge emphasized.
“So, I’m hopeful that both readers of The Mirror and the users of Facebook will be of help,” Rutledge concluded.
Readers who may have any useful information regarding the case that they would like to share may contact Rutledge at email@example.com or call him on his direct line at (419) 897-7033.