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The mystery of Tent Girl: Part 1

An artist's rendering of Tent Girl, who would remain a Jane Doe for 30 years.;

Wilbur Riddle, a Ky. well digger, had no idea that his walk in the woods near Georgetown, Ky. on May 18, 1968 would forever change not only his life, but the life of his future son-in-law, and eventually lead to the positive identification of a murdered Jane Doe after 30 years. During his walk, Riddle stumbled upon a solid object wrapped in a canvas tent, similar to the type of tents then used by carnival workers. However, upon cutting the tent open, Riddle received the shock of his life.

Lying inside the canvas was the decomposing body of a young, white female, who would remain unidentified for the next 30 years. Riddle immediately left the scene, frightened, and contacted the local authorities from a nearby gas station. Riddle led Scott County Sheriff Bobby Vance, Deputy Jimmy Williams, and Deputy Coroner Kenneth Grant to the body, which was nude, badly decomposed, and had some sort of white fabric draped over its shoulder.

Further examination led investigators to determine that “Tent Girl”, as she had come to be called by the police, was around 5-foot-1, weighed roughly 110 pounds, and had hair that was reddish-brown in color, well-manicured nails, and a distinct gap between her front teeth. The cause of death was found to have been blunt force trauma, which was the result of a blow to her head.

The mystery surrounding Tent Girl’s identity and death consumed Wilbur Riddle, who spent a great deal of his life relating the tale to anyone who would listen. As fate would have it, Riddle’s daughter began dating a man named Todd Matthews, who would later prove to be instrumental in uncovering Tent Girl’s true identity. Riddle first told Matthews the story of Tent Girl when Matthews was only 17, but he quickly began to share his future father-in-law’s obsession with solving the mystery.

Coming in Part 2: Todd Matthews finds new evidence in old FBI case files and utilizes the Internet to aid in the identification of Tent Girl after she had been considered a Jane Doe for 30 years.

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