Suspended Animation: Dormant Stories Waiting to be Told

The Strange Disappearance of Dorothy Jane Scott

            Dorothy Jane Scott was a strait-laced and hardworking thirty-two-year-old single mother living in Anaheim, California. To those that knew her, Dorothy’s life seemed rather monotonous as she worked two jobs which left Dorothy with very little free time and would often decline invitations to go out with friends and co-workers, and she rarely dated.

Dorothy much preferred a quiet evening at home with her son and tried to spend as much time with him as she could. She was kind, charismatic, honest, and dependable, and in May of 1980 Dorothy disappeared.

          On May 28, 1980 Dorothy Scott attended a routine store meeting at the Custom John’s headshop in Anaheim, where Dorothy was employed. During the meeting she noticed one of her co-workers, Conrad Bostron wasn’t feeling well and had a large red irritated splotchy area on his arm. While his symptoms were not stated, Bostron was experiencing severe muscle cramps, his heart rate probably increased, he started sweating, and his stomach would have been hurting something fierce. The reason this can be said is because Bostron, as it turns out had been bitten by a black widow spider and this is what happens if one should bite you. Dorothy grabbed her belongings and donned a red scarf (a detail that will become important later), then she and a fellow co-worker, Pam Head drove Bostron to the E.R taking Dorothy’s car where they arrived at UC Irvine Medical Center in Anaheim shortly after 9 p.m.

The women stayed together the entire time and when Bostron was discharged, Head offered to go with him to the pharmacy in the hospital to fill his prescription. To save time, Dorothy opted to go get the car which she told her friends she would bring around and meet them at the entrance. When Bostron had finished filling his prescription he and Head walked outside and were greeted by a dark and empty parking lot. Today, one would simply pull out their cell phone and call Dorothy but this is 1980 and her friends were pretty much reduced to looking around and maybe shouting Dorothy’s name. In the darkness seemingly out of nowhere bright headlights came rushing erratically towards them at top speed. Bostron and Head quickly ran out of the way but watched in horror as they recognized the white 1973 Toyota Station Wagon taking a sharp turn out of the hospital parking lot. It was Dorothy’s car.

            Naturally Bostron and Head were worried, but in an effort to remain optimistic the pair deduced that Dorothy must have had an emergency and there was a rational explanation for her weird and abrupt departure. But even if there had been an emergency there was something about Dorothy’s bizarre driving skills that was hard for Bostron and Head to ignore. She had been driving much too fast and had hurled by them as if she hadn’t seen them. When Dorothy failed to reappear at the hospital Bostron and Head began making calls. It was then they discovered there had been no emergency and Dorothy’s volatile driving made more sense if she in fact, wasn’t the driver at all but was perhaps fighting for control of the vehicle instead. Bostron and Head were unable to see inside the vehicle as it sped past them and were therefore unable to see who was driving it but they knew it wasn’t their benevolent friend that had only moments before casually walked out of the hospital doors. Dorothy’s parents reported their daughter missing and a description of Dorothy and her vehicle were sent out.

If there had been any doubts as to rather or not Dorothy had been abducted, they were made certain when a car engulfed in flames in an alley not far from the hospital where Dorothy had last been seen turned out to be hers. Dorothy herself however, was nowhere in sight. I imagine it’s frustrating in a case where the victim seems to have no known enemies, everyone just thought the world of them, and the exes all come out with solid alibis and truly, Dorothy’s case was shaping up to be just that except for one alarming discovery. For several months prior to her abduction police discovered Dorothy had been repeatedly terrorized by a stalker.

…Is Dorothy Home?

          There are different kinds of stalkers but all have one thing in common, their irrational fixation with their victims. Some have such an extremely difficult time moving on after a failed relationship that they may frequently seek unwanted communication with their exes. Others convince themselves that their victims are in love with them, and some have nothing to do with warm, fuzzy feelings at all rather they simply enjoy using harassment to scare the shit out of their victims. It is difficult to tell which category Dorothy’s stalker fits into. It all started when one evening the phone rang at the Scott residence and the voice on the other end asked “is Dorothy home?”.

It was a male’s voice and while Dorothy thought it sounded eerily familiar, she couldn’t quite pinpoint where she had heard it. The caller told Dorothy that he was in love with her but Dorothy, the workaholic that rarely dated wasn’t interested nor was she amused by the call. But Dorothy’s phone rang again…and again…and again and not all of these calls were messages of love. One minute, Dorothy was the love of the caller’s life, and in another he would tell Dorothy in graphic detail how he likewise planned to murder her. The calls had begun at Dorothy’s residence but it wasn’t long before she answered the phone at work and a familiar menacing voice spoke in her ear. Its fair to assume that Dorothy did her fair share of answering and promptly hanging up, but still day and night her phone rang and more often than not it was him, sometimes simply asking “is Dorothy home?”.  

            Over time of course, Dorothy’s stalker grew bolder and started leaving Dorothy “presents” to let her know he was nearby and more importantly, that he could get to her. On one occasion the caller asked Dorothy to go outside because he had left something out there for her. For whatever reason Dorothy agreed to do this and found a dead rose lying on the windshield of her car. But if Dorothy was receiving threatening phone calls on the regular which escalated to creepy visits to her home why then had she not filed a report with the police? The answer lies in the time period this crime took place and unfortunately, there were no anti-stalking laws in 1980. In fact, it would be another decade before California would create the first anti-stalking laws in the U.S in 1990. What Dorothy could do was file a restraining order but that’s really difficult to accomplish if you don’t know the identity of the person threatening you. Whatever the case, Dorothy never reported the harassment but she did attempt to take precautions elsewhere by enrolling herself in a martial arts class and shopping for a gun. If there’s anything we’ve learned about anonymous stalkers here though, it is that they could be anywhere at any time and are probably always watching, or at least it’s probably safe to assume they are. A week after beginning her Karate lessons Dorothy Jane Scott disappeared.

            Dorothy’s caller didn’t stay quiet for long. A week after their daughter’s abduction Vera Scott, Dorothy’s mother picked up the telephone at her home and said “Hello?”. A voice on the other end asked “is Dorothy home?”. The calls continued, usually occurring on Wednesday afternoons and always when Vera was alone. There is also some speculation that the caller chose Wednesday because May 28, 1980, the date Dorothy Scott was abducted just happened to have fallen on a Wednesday but it is doubtful that anyone found this to be purely coincidental. The calls were frightening. Sometimes the caller would tell Vera that her daughter was dead and that he had murdered her. Other times he would tell her Dorothy was alive and he had her held captive somewhere. Without a body the Scott’s could only hope that Dorothy was indeed still alive somewhere and that maybe one day one of those calls would be her. For this reason, Vera and Jacob Scott refused to change their telephone number regardless of the cruel and sadistic nature of the man that continued to taunt them. Unlike Dorothy’s calls, the police were aware of the calls her parents were receiving and installed a listening device in their home in order to record the caller speaking to them, and more importantly trace his calls. While the Scott’s were able to catch his voice on the recorder the caller would habitually hang up too soon making tracing his calls frustrating and impossible.  

            Two weeks after Dorothy’s disappearance The Orange County Register, a newspaper published in Anaheim told police someone claiming to have murdered Dorothy Scott had called the front desk on June 12, 1980. “I killed her” the voice said, “I killed Dorothy Scott”.

The caller continued on by saying he had been in love with Dorothy but she had been unfaithful to him and for this he had murdered her. The man had apparently sobbed through his confession and while it is entirely possible that the caller wasn’t the same person that had actually abducted Dorothy Scott, Police felt confident that he was seeing as how he knew specifics of Dorothy’s disappearance that had not been released to the public. Remember Dorothy’s red scarf? Dorothy had actually worn two scarves that day but as we already know, she had chosen the red one as she was leaving the meeting. The caller not only mentioned Dorothy’s red scarf but he knew about the black one as well which she had been wearing earlier that day, both of which were details that had not been published by newspapers. The caller also mentioned Dorothy’s co-worker that she had been with that evening, Conrad Bostron and that Bostron had been treated for a spider bite. He then went on to claim that Dorothy had called him from the hospital but Dorothy’s co-worker, Pam Head who had accompanied Dorothy and Bostron to the hospital said this wasn’t possible as she and Dorothy had been together the entire time, and Dorothy never made any calls.  

            Time passed and the case grew cold, then colder. Then in 1984 a construction crew was out laying pipe for the Pacific Bell Telephone Company off Santa Ana Canyon Rd in Anaheim when one of them jokingly told the crew “watch out for dead bodies”. Only moments after making this comment another crew member stumbled upon what appeared to him to be the partially burnt skeletal remains of a human.

Police were called and the bones collected. Some of the bones were found to belong to a dog while the others were indeed found to be those of a human and with the help of dental records, the search for Dorothy Jane Scott came to an end. Dorothy’s remains consisted of her skull, two femurs, and her pelvis. Her remains however, revealed little information and with that being said it is not known when or how Dorothy died, as it is possible her abductor kept her alive for some time before killing and dumping her body. What police did know was that Dorothy must have been murdered prior to the fires that broke out in that area in 1982 which would account for both hers and the dogs burnt remains. However, found with Dorothy was her turquoise ring and her wristwatch which supposedly had stopped at 12:30 am on May 29, 1980 shortly after she was abducted from the hospital parking lot.

            Unfortunately, while Dorothy’s family were able to give their daughter a proper burial, they were nowhere closer to solving Dorothy’s murder and finding the man who had tormented them for so many years, nor would they ever understand why. Dorothy’s stalker seems to fall into the “Obsessional/scorned-love” category where he had become so infatuated with Dorothy that he either had convinced himself she had felt the same way, or he might have actually approached her in person and she rebuffed him. Remember that Dorothy had told her mother that she recognized the voice but could not remember from where. This is probably because Dorothy did not know her stalker, he was probably an acquaintance, someone she’d briefly spoken to at work, or in her neighborhood. He could be an employee at a store Dorothy frequented. Hell, he could have been her mailman for all she knew. One thing I am personally curious about is, if Dorothy was so afraid that she had begun taking self-defense classes and was considering buying a gun, -why then did Dorothy volunteer to go to the parking lot alone for the car the night she disappeared?  

By 1984 the calls had ceased, at least for a while but shortly after Dorothy’s remains were found the Scott’s phone began to ring. This time Jacob Scott answered to which a malicious voice asked “….is Dorothy home?”.

Krista Funk

Managing Editor: The Moratorium