Inside the Evidence: Tammy Jo Alexander's message from beyond the grave

May 10, 2019 11:23 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A 16-year-old girl was found shot and killed in a cornfield. It happened in Caledonia nearly 40 years ago. 

She was only known as Jane Doe until she was identified in 2015 as Tammy Jo Alexander from Florida, but her killer is still out there. 

News10NBC's Nikki Rudd is taking us inside the evidence of this cold case. 

For the first time, investigators showed us a note Alexander wrote in a yearbook to her best friend. Just months later, she was found dead in Livingston County. 

"Best friends, that's what we are forever," she wrote. "We had fun then. Especially with those two truck drivers. Remember when we went to your house while skipping school?"

"She had no idea what she was ultimately going to end up facing here in New York state," Livingston County Sheriff's Investigator Brad Schneider said.

"I guess all we can do is look back on the good times," Alexander wrote in the yearbook of her best friend Laurel Nowell. 

Nowell was at the memorial service for Alexander back in 2015 at Greenmount Cemetery in Dansville. 

"I know you're at rest now and that someday I'll see you again," Nowell said at the service. 

When Nowell tried to find her old friend five years ago, her search led to the Jane Doe found murdered in a cornfield in Caledonia.  

"Back in November 1979, a young lady was found by a farmer who owns this field," Schneider said while standing on the side of Route 20. "She was shot in the head above her right eye. That was up close and personal. She knew her attacker. They were face to face when it happened."

News10NBC went back to the crime scene. 

"She was dragged out into the field and another round through her back to guarantee that she was deceased," Schneider said. 

Nowell tracked down Alexander's half-sister Pamela Dyson in Florida. The family thought Alexander just ran away and was living her own life. However, Dyson's DNA confirmed our Jane Doe was Alexander.

"It never occurred to me that someone would murder my sister, and even now in my mind, I cannot understand why," Dyson said at her sister's memorial service. 

Investigators learned Alexander had eaten a ham dinner with corn before she was killed and traced that last meal to what was then the Lima Diner. 

"The waitress that was working the night Tammy Jo had been in the restaurant actually recalled seeing her there with an unknown male," Schneider said. 

Police released a rendering of the suspect: a white man about 5'8" - 5'9" wearing black wire-rimmed glasses. 

"Do you believe he's the killer?" asked Rudd. 

"Very well could be," Schneider said.  

But after all these years, no one has been able to identify him. 

This jacket could also be key to solving the case. It's the coat Alexander was wearing when she was killed. 

"It was an auto sports jacket," Schneider said. "It was red with a black stripe. We don't believe it was her jacket. It very well could be that of her killer."

Male DNA was found on that jacket. Back in 2016, it was tested against three men. None of them matched. 

Investigators also released pictures of the necklace Alexander was wearing along with two key chains found on her body -- a heart with a key. 

"Tammy was sweet and kind," Dyson said. "Why would anyone want to harm her? Why would anyone want to murder her and throw her away?"

Dyson is still waiting for the killer to be caught. 

"I have two people I'm very interested in that I think could possibly be involved in this," Schneider said.

He won't say who those people are, only that they're not from this area. 

"Hopefully someday we can get enough evidence to prove that maybe one of them is, in fact, the killer," Schneider said. 

Here are images of the full yearbook entry Alexander wrote:


Click here to watch our web extra on past stories about the case. 

Anyone with information on who killed Tammy Jo Alexander is asked to call (585)243-7100.

The FBI is offering a $20,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest. 


Nikki Rudd

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