Brenda Gerow: ID’s ‘Who Killed Jane Doe?’, John Kalhauser, Arizona Desert Murder

The cold case murder of Brenda Gerow will air on Investigation Discovery’s latest crime docu-series Who Killed Jane Doe? The show examines cases of missing crime victims, whose bodies eventually turn up with no way of identifying the victim. Authorities say that’s exactly what happened to Brenda Marie Gerow, who vanished without a trace in the early 1980s. For 34 years, her crime was unsolved until DNA evidence and the latest technology helped crack the case. John Kalhauser, the victim’s former friend, is the man police believe committed the murder. On Who Killed Jane Doe’s episode, “Girl Gone West,” you’ll hear from Pima County, Arizona, police detectives and KVOA news reporter Lupita Murillo.


Sun-Scorched Body In The Desert Near Fairgrounds: Who Killed Jane Doe?

On ID’s Who Killed Jane Doe?, detectives will describe the day in 1981 when they found the body of a woman in the Arizona desert. The body was initially found by hunters, who happened upon the dead woman near the Pima County Fairgrounds. In that same area, they also found a shirt and a jacket.

Jane Doe’s body appeared to be that of a woman between the ages of 18 and 20, and the skin was completely scorched. One detective noted that the woman looked like she had been roasted by the sun. A corner’s report determined that this was no runaway. She had been well-kept. She hadn’t been malnourished or homeless, and her extensive dental work was also an indication that she lived a normal life.

The cause of death was strangulation with a ligature. She had been beaten and sexually assaulted before she was finally dumped. From there, all leads went cold. Jane Doe was buried without any identification being made.


Nashua, New Hampshire, Woman Goes Missing For 34 Years (Who Killed Jane Doe?)

ID’s Who Killed Jane Doe recounts that the discovery of the body did nothing for a family who lived many miles away. They had been searching for Brenda Gerow.

Brenda Gerow had taken off, supposedly with a man that she had met in a nightclub. Gerow was never seen or heard from again.

After the case of Jane Doe was reopened in 2012, new technology helped solve the mystery. Police exhumed the body and released a sketch of the woman. The information was placed on social media. All tips led police to Brenda Gerow’s family, who had no idea that she had been found dead over 30 years earlier.


How Did Police Connect The Case?

A man named John Kalhauser was under investigation for the murder of his wife in 1995. Among his possessions was a photo of a blonde woman. John Kalhauser refused to tell police who she was, leading investigators to realize that the photo had some significance. The photo was placed in an evidence drawer. The woman in the photo turned out to be Brenda Gerow.

Investigators learned that Brenda Gerow had some sort of relationship with John Kalhauser. Most likely, they were lovers. When Brenda Gerow left her home with John Kalhauser, she relocated to Tuscon, Arizona, with him. They lived together for only a few months before he killed her.

When she was found back in 1981, the coroner noted that she had strange scratches all over her body. She most likely received the scratches as she was running through razor-sharp brush. Brenda Gerow was scared to death and running for her life.

A Recap Of John Kalhauser’s Trail Of Terror

John Kalhauser has a disturbing past. He has been in and out of trouble since he was a teen.

  • According to The Telegraph, 17-year-old John Joseph Kalhauser was arrested and convicted for the murder of a 52-year-old man who was found dead in the woods in 1971.
  • He was also arrested for beating up a nurse.
  • In 1979, John Kalhauser tried to kill Michael Renk, his ex-girlfriend’s new man, according to Cold Case Investigations.
  • In 1981, John fled to Arizona with Brenda Gerow, who most likely knew nothing about his criminal past.
  • He allegedly killed Brenda Gerow and left her in the desert.
  • In 1995, John Kalhauser killed his estranged wife, Diane Van Reeth. Her body has never been found.

Currently, John Kalhauser is serving time in prison. To see the dramatic recreation of the case, and how it was finally solved, tune into Who Killed Jane Doe? tonight at 10/9 p.m. Central on Investigation Discovery.


[Featured Image by Ross D. Franklin/AP Files]