Sister speaks out after Roseburg teen identified in murder case decades later

Nearly 43 years later, Lisa Roberts has been identified as the victim of a Washington murder, and her sister is speaking out.

Posted: Jul 1, 2020 1:51 PM
Updated: Jul 1, 2020 6:26 PM

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- Lisa Roberts, 17, went missing in 1977 from Roseburg. Nearly 43 years later, detectives have identified her as Precious Jane Doe from a murder case in Washington.

Now, her older sister is speaking out.

Officials from Snohomish County said Lisa was first reported as a runaway to the Roseburg Police Department.

Lynn Monger, two years older than her adopted sister, said she’s not sure why Lisa ran away. She’s also not sure why she ended up in Everett or if she was travelling with anyone.

“I’m thinking that she felt like she was grown up and she should be able to live her own life," said Monger. "Not being told what she could and couldn’t do by someone else.”

Lisa called home asking for money and her family begged her to come back, and Lisa said she’d think about it, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said.

The family transferred money to a bank in Everett for her to pick up. But she never did.

“I was going to talk to her and try to talk her into coming back home," said Monger. "It would only be for a few months until she was 18, then I would’ve helped her.”

Authorities said Lisa was hitchhiking near Silver Lake when she was picked up by David Roth, who killed her when she refused to have sex with him. She was murdered on Aug. 9, 1977, just 15 days after she left home.

Roth confessed to the murder and was sentenced to 26 years in prison, but the victim remained unidentified for decades.

“He probably didn’t even know her for half an hour before killing her," said lead detective Jim Scharf. "She didn’t have any identification on her.”

Lisa was finally identified using a new technique that allows forensics to use DNA from more difficult sources such as rootless hair.

Genealogy was also used to trace the Jane Doe’s biological family, and adoption records were obtained through Oregon Health Authority.

Scharf told KEZI 9 News that he named Lisa "Precious Jane Doe" because he was determined to get her body back to her loved ones. 

Monger said she was touched when she found out. 

“To know that they cared so much and that she meant so much to them that they called her that," said Monger. "It made me cry.”

Monger reflected on the sister she grew up with, saying Lisa was shy and they loved exploring Roseburg together. Lisa attended Roseburg High School prior to her disappearance.

All these years later, Monger said she's glad she finally knows what happened to her sister. 

“I have hoped all of these years, I have prayed to know what happened to her," said Monger. 

The family will be burying Lisa’s body in Hood River, alongside her adopted and biological family.

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