The Baffling Life and Death of Patricia Ann Rose

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Patricia Ann Rose, 20, disappeared sometime around 1980, but the exact date and many details of her life are unknown.

Patricia was born in Wareham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts in 1960. At some point, Patricia, or possibly Patricia and her immediate family, relocated to the other side of the country, settling in Tacoma, Washington.

At age 17, Patricia married John William Bowden, then 20, in 1977. He resided in Sacramento, California, but nobody knows how they met. Back then, there was no internet, so they could have been pen pals, writing letters back and forth to get acquainted.

Around 1978 or 1979, Patricia gave birth to their son. The police have not released his name.

Patricia’s marriage quickly went sour. By 1980, the couple had separated, and Patricia and their son were living in a room at a Sacramento hotel.  Then, Patricia vanished without a trace, leaving her son alone at the hotel.

Five years later, in 1985, two hunters stumbled upon a human skull while chasing one of their dogs who ran into thick shrubs near Boole Road in Placer County, 45 miles northeast of Sacramento.


The hunters immediately notified the Placer County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) in Auburn, and deputies collected the remains shortly after. A pathologist determined the skull belonged to a female who had been deceased for at least six months before the discovery. Unfortunately, decomposition made it impossible for the pathologist to ascertain the cause of death, which suggests there were no fractures or gunshot holes in the skull.

PCSO sent the skull to an anthropology lab at Chico State University to assist with identification. Chico State verified the remains were female. Experts created a facial reconstruction and released it to the public. Nobody recognized the woman. Authorities classified the female as a Jane Doe for over four decades.

Fast forward to 2005. Analysts at a California Department of Justice lab compared the case to missing persons in the state and analyzed the remains but found no matches.

According to the website, Project Justice is a nonprofit organization that “helps solve cases by funding the reevaluation of DNA evidence, utilizing the newest technologies previously unavailable at the times the crimes were committed.” It offered assistance and helped fund Othram Inc., a lab specializing in genetic genealogy. Othram’s experts did further lab work on the skull to develop a profile and ultimately provided PCSO detectives with a potential family tree.

PCSO investigators found a potential sibling of Patricia’s in Woodburn, Oregon. They subsequently worked with the Woodburn Police Department to acquire a reference sample from the sibling. Ultimately, that “sample was sent to the Richmond lab and compared to the DNA extracted from Rose’s remains,” according to ABC 10 News.

“The sibling had a sister who went missing from Sacramento and was last seen approximately in 1980,” the PCSO said. The remains were identified as Patricia Ann Rose in January of this year.

Detectives then interviewed Patricia’s sister, who was 16 when Patricia vanished, and Patricia’s son, now in his mid to late 40s. Her sister told investigators that Patricia sometimes used the first names “Torrie” and “Pattie” and the surnames “Anderson” and “Bowden.” However, it is unclear why Patricia used aliases.

Patricia’s sister claimed to remember little about her older sister’s life in California despite being 16 when Patricia vanished. Patricia’s son has no memory of his mother, and he learned what he knows about her from others over the years.

Strangely, PCSO detectives said they found “no records or reports” in Sacramento County of a baby boy found abandoned in a motel. That information came from Patricia’s sister and son, but they could not provide further details.

“We suspect foul play, but outside of that, we don’t know, said Sgt. David Smith, spokesperson for PCSO, in March of this year.

As of March of this year, investigators have only been able to find the sister and son. It is unclear where Bowden is or if he is still living. I quickly searched online and found a John William Bowden, who was the same age and living in Sacramento, but this may not be him. If alive, Bowden would be 67.

Detectives hope that someone will provide more information regarding Patricia Ann Rose. Anyone with tips should email the sheriff’s office at

TCD’s Thoughts

I find this whole case so bizarre. What happened on the last night of Patricia’s life? Did a stranger abduct her from the motel?

Bowden never reported his estranged wife missing. If he killed Patricia, why did he abandon their son? That isn’t very empathetic unless Bowden never wanted the child or he was not the father. He never had a relationship with his son because PCSO would have mentioned it. 

But I also find Patricia’s sister strange. When her family never heard from her, why didn’t one of them report her missing? Or make a trip to Sacramento? The sister was 16 when Patricia disappeared and old enough to have memories of her. So, how is it that she remembers so little about Patricia’s life in California? Was Patricia estranged from her family? Who were her parents? Does she have other siblings, living or dead? What was their family life like? It makes no sense that the sister could not provide more information unless she knows more than she is telling. For example, how did she know the boy had been abandoned at the motel? Who raised him?

I hope detectives uncover more about Patricia. It’s heartbreaking that people seem to have forgotten her. 


Dowd, Katie. “Her Body Was Found in Rural Calif. Her Son Was Found Alone in a Hotel.”, March 15, 2024.

Muegge, Alex. “Sacramento Woman’s Remains Identified After Almost 40 Years. She Was Found in Placer County.” ABC 10 News, February 9, 2024.

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True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

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