40 Years After Baby Abandoned, a Clue to Who She Might Be

'Jane Doe 927' was left in an airport in 1977; DNA testing could reveal her real identity
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2017 8:49 AM CDT

The toddler in the extra-large T-shirt was sitting between sliding glass doors at Amarillo Airport when a security guard found her late one night in September 1977, clasping a bottle of spoiled juice. Faded bruises signaled a troubled past, one from which the blonde, brown-eyed girl, aged 16 to 18 months, had been abandoned. Dubbed Jane Doe 927, the toddler was adopted by a loving family and rechristened Shelley Schooley. Her past would remain a mystery for four decades. Now the Amarillo Globe-News reports a DNA test could unlock those secrets. That is, if the mother of two decides to take it. Until now, Schooley says, she never wanted to pursue her "missing link." In a 2015 YouTube video, Schooley explains, "It's never mattered to me. I have my family and I wouldn't trade them for anything."

Meanwhile in 1998, a woman named Pattie Whitaker posted on a genealogy forum that she "will not give up" searching for her niece, Bonnie Lee Webster, who disappeared in 1977. The 18-month-old was apparently abandoned by Whitaker's late sister, who never explained what happened to the child. Genealogy sleuth Rona Randall saw the post and found an old newspaper photo of Jane Doe 927—a "perfect match" to baby Bonnie. Last month, Randall found Schooley and put her in touch with Whitaker. Schooley tells the Globe-News she can't justify the expense of the DNA test with two sons to raise. But, she adds, she may do it if the truth provides "closure" for Whitaker, her probable aunt. "That would be the only thing I feel I have to offer," she says. (Parents held out hope their missing daughter was still alive. She wasn't.)

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