Missing in Utah: Jane Doe of Millard County is now known

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – She is no longer a Jane Doe.

Friday, authorities in Millard County and Salt Lake City police confirmed the 1979 Jane Doe was Sandra Matoot.

Two years ago, the case was re-opened following a cold case podcast.

“Back in 2019 we started researching the bodies and victims of a serial killer in utah,” said Karra Porter co-founder of the Utah Cold Case Coalition. “And one of them was a Jane Doe in Millard County”

In 1979, Leonard Watts stumbled upon the skeletal remains of a woman near Cove Fort.

Four decades later she had never been identified and was named “Jane Doe” of Millard County.

It was during the “Cold Case Talk” podcast by the coalition on the Jane Doe case that a name of a missing Salt Lake City woman was discussed.

“One of our volunteers had come up with Sandra Matott as a possible match,” said Porter. “She had a ring that was similar to one that was found on the scene and she had no natural teeth.”

In 1979, Matott was listed as a missing person by Salt Lake City police. It fit the time frame of the Jane Doe in Millard County.

According to authorities in Millard County, Jane Doe “had no natural teeth and no dentures” were found on her.

The 1979 missing persons police report filed on Matott also listed the ring and no natural teeth. But no connection was ever made.

“Adults have a right to go missing,” said Porter. “She had a little bit of a checkered past so other than a family member saying ‘I haven’t seen her,” that was all. There was really not much of an investigation ever conducted into it.”

In Millard County, then-Sheriff Ed Phillips said they knew it wasn’t a woman from their area and solicited help statewide.

“We put out, I think different bulletins trying to determine from the missing persons standpoint,” he said.

The cases remained dormant until two years ago when Porter said authorities in Millard County contacted them after their cold case podcast of Jane Doe.

This week something odd happened.

NAMUS, the national data base for missing and unidentified persons removed the names of Jane Doe and Sandra Matott from their website.

In Utah, the founder of “We help the missing” knew what that meant for Matott.

“It means she has been located,” said Marki Davis. “If she was listed in NAMUS prior, then she’s been located. Thats what it tells me.”

And to have both disappear from NAMUS at the same time made Davis believe, they are one and the same.

“In my professional opinion I would assume that that’s what happened.”

And Davis was right. Friday, police and Millard County sheriff’s office sent out a release confirming Sandra Matoot is no longer missing. In a press statement they issued the following:

Today, the Salt Lake City Police Department announced the closure of a missing persons cold case after DNA testing confirmed human remains located in Millard County, Utah belonged to Sandra Matott—who disappeared in July of 1979.

To date, this is the oldest missing persons cold case closed by the Salt Lake City Police Department.

The Millard County Sheriff’s Office also announced the closure of its homicide investigation into Sandra Matott’s death. 

Salt Lake Police Chief Mike Brown said, “No matter how much time passes, the detectives of the Salt Lake City Police Department will never let up in their quest to solve every case and to get answers for loved ones. Solving a cold case requires teamwork, dedication and an unrelenting pursuit of justice. That’s how we got to today—because of the teamwork of multiple agencies and the dedication of the current and prior detectives throughout Utah who worked Ms. Matott’s case. They never gave up on this investigation. They recognized the work that needed to be done to get the family of Sandra Matott answers, and for that, I could not be prouder.”

Millard County Sheriff Richard Jacobson said, “We are grateful to be in an age where technological advances have provided many avenues for law enforcement to find answers not previously available to them. Without the resources available through NamUs, we don’t know how much longer Sandra Matott would have been unidentified. We send our condolences to her family for their loss and many years of waiting. It is an honor to us that we were able to help bring them some answers.”

Darrell Haymes, Sandra Matott’s son, said, “We are happy the case is now closed because it brings us some answers. As a family, we are happy about this development, but also sad it took this long. Forty-two years is a long time. We are happy that the investigators never closed the case and continued to work on it so we could reach this point.”

  • On July 18, 1979, the Salt Lake City Police Department opened a missing person’s investigation on Sandra Matott after her husband, Warren Matott, reported his wife missing. Warren Matott reported Sandra was last seen at a bar eight days earlier in Salt Lake City. At the time, an SLCPD follow-up detective attempted to contact Warren Matott but was unsuccessful.
  • On August 19, 1979, the Millard County Sheriff’s Office received information that a hunting party located skeletal human remains near the I-15 Cove Fort exit near a road called “Old 91.” There were no signs of homicidal violence to the skeletal remains. At the scene, investigators located two pieces of jewelry, a ring and a watch. Both were later determined to belong to Sandra Matott. [See photos below]. Due to the suspicious circumstances, the Millard County Sheriff’s Office opened a homicide investigation.
  • On December 17, 2012, the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification’s Missing Persons Clearinghouse contacted the SLCPD with information from the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office. Investigators sought to confirm whether the information was connected to the original missing person’s case from 1979.
  • Between January and April 2013, an SLCPD Homicide Detective was re-assigned to the case and determined Sandra Matott was still missing. The SLCPD detective entered Sandra’s information into two national databases for missing persons while conducting additional investigative follow-up.
  • The investigation continued through the summer of 2013. During the investigation, Sandra Matott’s family reported they believed Warren Matott, Sandra’s husband, was likely responsible for her disappearance and death. Warren Matott died on October 11, 1999 in California.
  • On February 1, 2019, Sandra Matott was entered as a “Cold Case Missing Person” into Utah’s “Cold Case Database.” Her case information was later entered into a federal database that assists law enforcement in identifying, locating, apprehending, and prosecuting people responsible for violent crimes.
  • On November 25, 2019, the Millard County Sheriff’s Office contacted the SLCPD after a case file was located describing skeletal human remains possibly connected to Sandra’s missing person’s case.
  • In December of 2019, Utah’s Forensic Anthropologist completed a report which allowed the Millard County Sheriff’s Office to submit the previously recovered bones to the University of North Texas for DNA testing in October of 2020.
  • On August 10, 2021, the Millard County Sheriff’s Office received confirmation the remains located in 1979 belonged to Sandra Matott.
  • On August 13, 2021, the Salt Lake City Police Department and the Millard County Sheriff’s Office met with the family of Sandra Matott and informed them of the case developments.

The Utah Medical Examiner’s Office never determined a cause of death for Sandra Matott.

Detectives from both SLCPD and the Millard County Sheriff’s Office believe Warren Matott likely had more information about the disappearance and death of Sandra Matott. However, there was never any probable cause to charge Warren Matott in connection to this case.

In 1984, serial killer Henry Lee Lucas confessed to killing Sandra Matott. His claims were vague, and detectives could not verify his confession. Media reports indicated that Lucas confessed, and later recanted, to hundreds of murders.

Missing in Utah will continue its series of reports on Jane Doe/Sandra Matoot. Monday, a daughter finally gets her mother back.

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