Bittersweet Closure: Decades Later El Dorado County Investigators ID Murdered Jane Doe

PLACERVILLE -- More than 40 years after an El Dorado County woman’s murder, her family finally got closure.

It was a mystery that haunted El Dorado County for decades -- who is Jane Doe?

"The coroner’s office at that time of the sheriff's office didn’t have anything to link the remains to any person, so it was unidentified," said El Dorado County District Attorney Chief Investigator Jeff Dreher.

In 1981, hikers near Rock Creek Road found a human skull with a single gunshot wound.

It didn’t match any dental records and with little else to go on, investigators buried the skull, having given up on finding who it belonged to.

But in 2017, the District Attorney’s Cold Case Homicide Task Force decided to give the case another try.

"We came out here to exhume the skulls and that were in the gravesite and that's how it led us to the recovery of Ms. Dinkel," Dreher told FOX40.

DNA technology that didn’t exist when the skull was initially found led them to Rebecca Dinkel.

Her sons, Brion and Clint, helped provide their own DNA to investigators.

"We would never have been able to solve this case without DNA," Dreher said.

The 19-year-old and her mother, Nancy Webster, were murdered back in 1974. Webster’s boyfriend, Clifton Mahaney, was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

"Their remains were never recovered," said Assistant District Attorney Joe Alexander. "There was a trial, there was a conviction. The defendant went and served his term, was released from prison and, in fact, died."

The brothers say their father didn't share details surrounding the deaths, only telling them when they were old enough to understand that their mother and grandmother were murdered.

"The actual truth truth really we didn't really ... it didn't come out to us until this discovery," Clint Dinkel said.

For 40 years, Dinkel’s two sons never knew with certainty that their mother was gone. There was no body and no closure until they got a call from the chief investigator.

"Kind of a relief but a lot of anger too," said Brion Dinkel. "Stirs up a whole lot of very deep down feelings and questions."

They will now have a chance to, finally, give their mother a proper burial. It will be a bittersweet sense of closure for two men who had to grow up with so many unanswered questions.

"That I could actually talk to her someday and ask her, 'Why would you abandon us like you did?'" Brion Dinkel said.

As difficult as knowing what happened to their mom and grandmother from the beginning, nothing could have prepared them to handle the floodgate of emotions that's poured in since.

"The whole grieving process has started over," both brothers echoed.

But they are forever grateful to El Dorado County along with all who labored over the case for all these years.

For everyone out there, the brothers say love your parents because life can be short.

"Don't give up, you never know,” Brion Dinkel said.

"Believe in God. Just leave it to God. That's all I can say," Clint Dinkel said.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.