Taunted by an Anonymous Caller: The Murder of Dorothy Jane Scott

Updated on December 28, 2019
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Kym L. Pasqualini is the founder and former CEO of Nation's Missing Children Organization and National Center for Missing Adults.

Dorothy Jane Scott and her 4-year-old son Shawn.
Dorothy Jane Scott and her 4-year-old son Shawn.

It was a pleasant summer night in Anaheim, California, on May 28, 1980. Dorothy Jane Scott, 32, was at a meeting at work. She brought it to the attention of her coworker Conrad Bostron that he didn’t look well and had a red mark and swelling on his arm. Dorothy offered to take him to the hospital and her other coworker, Pam Head, offered to accompany her to take Conrad to the emergency room at UCI Medical Center in Irvine.

Dorothy Jane Scott’s coworker Conrad Bostron had been bitten by a deadly black widow spider the night she went missing.
Dorothy Jane Scott’s coworker Conrad Bostron had been bitten by a deadly black widow spider the night she went missing.

As it turned out, Conrad had been bitten by a deadly black widow spider, and he’s lucky Dorothy had noticed. It was like her to be concerned for others. All of her friends and family said that was just like Dorothy.

While Conrad was being seen by physicians, Pam and Dorothy kept each other company in the waiting room. Once Conrad was discharged, Pam and Conrad waited in line for a prescription and Dorothy went to use the restroom, then to get her car from the parking lot and meet them at the front entrance to make it easier for Conrad.

Dorothy’s car sped by her coworkers, blinding them with her headlights.
Dorothy’s car sped by her coworkers, blinding them with her headlights.

When Pam and Conrad went outside it took 10-20 minutes before they saw Dorothy's car, but it sped right by with the headlights blinding them so neither could see who was driving.

They tried to wave her down, but the car just passed by, made a quick right turn out of the driveway, and shut off the headlights, disappearing into the nighttime darkness. Immediately, Conrad and Pam thought Dorothy must have had an emergency with her son. In an era of no cell phones, they waited about two hours to see if Dorothy would return for them.

Dorothy Jane Scott was reported missing from an Anaheim, California the evening of May 28, 1980.
Dorothy Jane Scott was reported missing from an Anaheim, California the evening of May 28, 1980.

Conrad and Pam phoned Dorothy’s parents’ house to check to see if she had been there. When she could not be found at her parent’s home, they called police, who at the time didn’t seem alarmed.

Soon, police would find they had everything to worry about. Her body would later be found but not until “after” years of anonymous calls from the killer that would haunt Dorothy’s family.

A Doting Mother

Dorothy was a single mother living in Stanton, California, with her aunt and 4-year-old son. Dorothy lived just 20 minutes from her parents in Anaheim, and the family was close, offering her all the support she needed.

Friends describe Dorothy Jane Scott as a responsible, loving mother and professional.
Friends describe Dorothy Jane Scott as a responsible, loving mother and professional.

Friends and coworkers describe Dorothy as a devout Christian who did not drink or do drugs and loved staying home to dote on her son.

When describing Dorothy to police, Jacob Scott told them his daughter dated occasionally but had no steady boyfriend at the time of her disappearance. Her parents also babysat their grandson, Shawn, while Dorothy worked.

Custom John’s that used to be right next door to Swingers, a store Dorothy Scott’s father owned.
Custom John’s that used to be right next door to Swingers, a store Dorothy Scott’s father owned.

Growing up, Dorothy worked hard and relied only on herself. She worked as a secretary at Swinger’s Psych Shop, which sold psychedelic beads, lava lamps and the like. She also worked at Custom John’s Head Shop, right next door in Anaheim. Dorothy’s father jointly owned Swingers.

Dorothy’s coworkers described her as a conscientious worker and a pleasure to be around. She loved to go to church and a friend said, her life was “as dull as a phone book,” not one that would promote danger. However, there was danger lurking the night she vanished.

The night Dorothy disappeared no one remembers her doing anything out of the ordinary. On the way to the hospital, Dorothy, Pam, and Conrad made a quick stop at Dorothy’s parent’s home to check on her son and let her parents know where she was going—and she changed the black scarf she was wearing to a red one.

In 1980, Dorothy Jane Scott began receiving anonymous calls from a man whose voice sound familiar, but she couldn’t quite place it.
In 1980, Dorothy Jane Scott began receiving anonymous calls from a man whose voice sound familiar, but she couldn’t quite place it.

An Anonymous Caller

In the months preceding Dorothy’s disappearance, she told others that she had been receiving phone calls from a man who she had said was stalking her. When he called both her home and work phones, he would express his undying love for her, then next he would threaten her. He would even tell her about her daily routine.

One call specifically horrified Dorothy. He told her that he was going to get her alone and “cut her into bits” so no one could ever find her. Another evening he called and told her to go outside, that he had left her something for her. When she went out the door, she found one dead rose sitting on top of her car.

She told her family she recognized the voice but just couldn’t place it. A week before her disappearance Dorothy began taking self-defense lessons and considered purchasing a handgun.

Dorothy Jane Scott received threatening phone calls but to this day, he remains anonymous.
Dorothy Jane Scott received threatening phone calls but to this day, he remains anonymous.

No one knew who was calling Dorothy Jane Scott and threatening her, but there does exist a theory. There was one man on the police radar. His name was Mike Butler who once owned Custom John’s Head Shop, the shop where Dorothy worked. He had become obsessed with Dorothy. Butler lived alone in the Santiago Mountains and rumored to be unstable, perhaps even involved in cult activities.

Dorothy’s son, now grown, believes this man is the stalker of his mother. Though there is no evidence that can substantiate Dorothy’s son’s theory, Butler would have known Dorothy’s schedule and even what she was wearing because apparently Butler’s sister also worked closely with Dorothy at the shop. No doubt, Butler had the ways and means to harass Dorothy.

Dorothy Jane Scott’s car was located burning in an alley the day after she vanished.
Dorothy Jane Scott’s car was located burning in an alley the day after she vanished.

The Car Is Found Burned

Several hours after Dorothy’s disappearance, at approximately 4:30 a.m. on May 29, her white 1973 Toyota station wagon, was found burning in an alley about 10 miles away in Santa Ana. This chilling discovery only deepened the mystery and escalated the concern for Dorothy’s well-being.

That’s when anonymous phone calls to Dorothy’s parent’s home started. The phone rang and Vera answered.

“Are you related to Dorothy Scott?” the caller asked.

“Yes,” Vera answered.

“I’ve got her,” the male voice said, then he hung up.

Her family was frantic and immediately call the police who told them not to talk to reporters while they initiated a massive search. About a week later, Jacob’s patience ran out and he called the Santa Ana Register newspaper and they ran a story about Dorothy’s disappearance. The day the story ran, Pat Riley, editor for the newspaper received a call.

“I killed her,” the caller told Riley.

“I killed Dorothy Scott. She was my love. I caught her cheating with another man. She denied having someone else. I killed her,” the anonymous caller said. The caller also mentioned Dorothy wearing a red scarf, further convincing Riley he was speaking to the killer. The caller also mentioned that Conrad had suffered a spider bite.

Police investigated Dorothy’s ex and father of Shawn, but his alibi was airtight. However, the calls continued. Almost every Wednesday when Vera was home alone more calls all saying the same thing.

“Is Dorothy there?”

“I’ve got her.”

“I’ve killed her.”

Vera lived through four years of tormenting calls from her own daughter’s killer.

Detectives search an area on Canyon Road in Santa Ana, after human remains were located.
Detectives search an area on Canyon Road in Santa Ana, after human remains were located.

Remains Are Located

On August 6, 1984, a construction worker discovered human remains in the brush on Canyon Road in Santa Ana. Only partial remains were located, a human skull, pelvis, two thigh bones, and an arm. A turquoise ring and watch were also located. The watch had stopped on May 29, 1980, at 12:30 a.m.

The remains of a dog were also found placed on top of Dorothy’s body.

Harassing Calls Continue

After the announcement of the discovery of Dorothy’s body appeared in the newspaper. Vera again received a call.

“Is Dorothy home?” he asked.

Dorothy’s parents had been subjected to so much trauma. The killer had continued to call like clockwork for four years taunting Vera. The calls only stopped, after Jacob was home one day and answered the phone.

When Jacob answered, the caller immediately hung up. Would Jacob have recognized the caller’s voice? If the caller was Butler, he would have known Jacob as they crossed paths at Swingers and would have immediately known each other’s voices. The mystery remains, but the calls stopped after that.

Dorothy’s family, Jacob (left) and Vera Scott (holding his hand), along with their grandson Shawn, 8, family friend David Kennedy attending Dorothy’s memorial service.
Dorothy’s family, Jacob (left) and Vera Scott (holding his hand), along with their grandson Shawn, 8, family friend David Kennedy attending Dorothy’s memorial service.

Dorothy Lives

Behind a chapel lectern at Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks were flowers and ribbons that said, “Beloved Sister” and “Sis.” Nearby was a framed photograph of Dorothy smiling.

“Where do you start?” said Jim Scott, Dorothy’s brother, addressing the 50 plus people in the Church of Our Father's cemetery.

“Dorothy lives,” he said. He gestured behind to the bank of flowers. “Maybe not in this body, but she lives.”

It was a symbolic gesture as the coroner had not yet released Dorothy’s remains to the family pending further investigation.

Dorothy Jane Scott with her son Shawn before her death in May 1980.
Dorothy Jane Scott with her son Shawn before her death in May 1980.

“To me, she exemplified the word 'give.' She’d just give, and give, and give, no matter what it cost her . . . she spent her last hours giving and being concerned about others.”

Her brother told the mourners Dorothy had no material wealth but was very rich. “We have all suffered a great loss, but I am sure Dorothy would want this to be a time about giving,” Jim said.

One of the last photographs of Dorothy Jane Scott with her 4-year-old son Shawn.
One of the last photographs of Dorothy Jane Scott with her 4-year-old son Shawn.

“We’ve buried it (the grief),” said Jacob Scott after the funeral. “Now we are going to start living like people ought to.” We know that’s what Dorothy would have wanted.

Sadly, Jacob Scott passed away in 1994 and Vera in 2002 without ever knowing who murdered their beloved daughter—without ever seeing justice. However, her son Shawn remains dedicated to finding the truth about who murdered his mother.

Shawn believes Mike Butler kidnapped and killed his mother. In his mind, there is no doubt. For him, justice is the only answer.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Kym L Pasqualini

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