Ventura county homicide detectives make a dramatic announcement. They've cracked the cold case murders of two women - both killed by the same man who left behind a silent witness - his own DNA.
Wilson Chouest is in prison for other violent crimes against women. Now he's being charged with two cold case murders.
Both women were raped, murdered and dumped a week apart in 1980. They're both unidentified "Jane Does."
Police are hoping someone will recognize the women, and finally - give them names.
On July 18, 1980, at approximately 12:30pm, Sheriff's patrol deputies responded to a call of a dead body found in a parking lot of Westlake High School, 100 N Lakeview Canyon Road, in Westlake Village. The murdered woman was at the foot of a dirt hillside in the rear parking lot of the school, accessible from N. Via Merida.
It was determined the unidentified woman was sexually assaulted, stabbed and strangled to death elsewhere before being dumped in the school's parking lot. Her autopsy determined she was approximately five months pregnant with a son. Thirty-five years later, the murdered woman remains unidentified.
As a result of major advances in DNA, in 2012, DNA that was collected from Jane Doe's clothing and fingernails was submitted to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Wilson Chouest was identified as the person associated with this DNA. At that time, Chouest was serving a life sentence in state prison for the kidnap, robbery, and rape of one woman, and kidnap and robbery of another that occurred in Tulare County in August and September of 1980. Chouest is eligible for parole for these crimes in 2017.
This new DNA information gave the investigation forward momentum, especially when investigators learned Chouest had been linked through DNA to another Jane Doe homicide in Kern County. The body of Kern County's Jane Doe was found in an almond orchard near Delano on July 15, 1980, three days prior to the Ventura County Jane Doe being found. While detectives from both agencies worked to develop evidence in the case against Chouest, they continued in their efforts to identify the two Jane Doe's.
The women have been featured on bulletins shared on our social media platforms and on numerous Jane Doe websites. Despite not being able to identify the women, the investigation did develop evidence that showed Chouest was responsible for the deaths of the two women and the unborn child.
The Ventura County Cold Case Unit detectives submitted evidence to the Ventura County District Attorney's Office for review. On September 23, 2015, Chouest was brought back to Ventura County on a court order. He was arrested on September 30, 2015 for murder. Chouest is due to appear in court on October 1, 2015.
These victims have been unidentified for 35 years. Both women had live births prior to their death. Somewhere, there are two families whose mothers disappeared in July of 1980, never to be heard from or seen again. We'd like nothing more than to bring the families answers and return their loved ones to them.
Chouest traveled throughout several counties during his four months of freedom in 1980. Investigators believe these women's kidnapping and murders could have occurred in Tulare, Kern, Ventura or Los Angeles Counties.
If you have information about Wilson Chouest's activity between June and September 1980 or you have information about the victims' identities, please email your tips to the Cold Case Unit at email@example.com.