Apr 26, 2023

Help Sought for Cold Case in Ventura County, California

This is a reconstructed image of Ventura Jane Doe by Carl Koppelman, investigative genealogist with the DNA Doe Project and a forensic sketch artist.

Forty-three years after a young woman was found in a parking lot near Westlake High School in Thousand Oaks, she remains unidentified.

Now investigators with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and the DNA Doe Project are asking the public to share information about a specific family tree.

The team of investigative genetic genealogists at the DNA Doe Project have been working to identify Ventura Jane Doe since 2018, analyzing distant cousin matches to her DNA profile and building a family tree to try to connect all her relatives and locate the right branch that will reveal her identity. It’s a daunting task, reaching all the way back to a couple who lived in a community known as Bajío de la Tesorera (or “La Blanca”) in the Mexican state of Zacatecas.

They have determined that one of Ventura Jane Doe’s parents is descended from Martin Parga (1847-1902) and Catarina Montellano (1853-1895), who had 14 children. Investigators would like to learn more about five of their daughters born in the latter half of the 19th century — Monica, Basilia, Feliciana, Josefa, and Sotera. Other than their birth records and a few records pertaining to Feliciana and three of her children, no records from the later lives of the five sisters or their descendants have been located.

“Due to a fire in the Civil Registry office in Ojocaliente, Zacatecas, where many of the births, marriages, and deaths of residents of La Blanca were recorded, much of the documentation was lost,” explained Carl Koppelman, investigative genetic genealogist with the DNA Doe Project.

There is a large community of people closely related to Ventura Jane Doe who currently live in the neighborhoods surrounding the Belvedere and Boyle Heights districts of East Los Angeles who have ancestral roots in La Blanca, Zacatecas, and have the same surnames of her closest known relatives — Parga, Lira, Aleman, Betancourt, Chavez, Chairez, Ramos, Ortiz and Ibarra. 

The DNA Doe Project is asking for anyone with information regarding the five Parga sisters — Monica, Basilia, Feliciana, Josefa, or Sotera, and any of their spouses/partners or descendants — to email with the subject “Ventura.”

For more about the DNA Doe Project, see