Decades Old Murders in Northern Nevada and Eastern California Solved


For nearly 37-years, she was simply known  as “Sheep’s Flat Jane Doe.” She was discovered shot to death by hikers near a trail close to Mount Rose Highway, in Washoe County, Nevada, on July 17, 1982.

But now she has her given name back: Mary Silvani, born in Pontiac, Michigan, in 1948. After developing a DNA profile from a rape kit taken at the time her body was discovered, detectives used a set of fingerprints provided by the Detroit Police Department from a misdemeanor arrest in 1974, to verify the body was that of as Mary.

Cold case cops also have the perpetrator of the crime – a man who died in prison five months after the murder – James Richard Curry, born in Texas. In 1946. He was identified after his two children provided voluntary DNA samples, confirming that their DNA matched those of the Mary’s murderer.

Five months after Mary was killed, Curry confessed to committing three other murders in California while in custody. He’d been arrested after he killed a man in his home and sexually assaulted the man’s wife, kidnapped her and killed her.

Curry died in 1983 in prison several days after a suicide attempt. The other murders Curry committed occurred in California’s San Jose and Santa Clara counties and suspect he may have also killed a co-worker from Waukena, in Tulare County, also in California, where he had lived, but that victim’s remains have not been located.

It was in April 2018 when the Washoe County Sheriffs cold case squad and forensic unit began working with the DNADoe Project and IdentiFinders International to make the duel identifications. However, there’s still more work to be done as investigators still don’t know whether or how Curry and Silvani knew each other.

Meanwhile, the Eldorado County, California, Cold Case Task Force has been busy solving two other decades old murders in the South Lake Tahoe area. In 1977, horseback riders discovered 27-year-old Brynn Rainey’s body buried in a shallow grave near Stateline Stables and two years later, 16-year-old Carol Andersen’s battered corpse was found dumped alongside a road.

Investigators recently identified the murder suspect as deceased South Lake Tahoe resident Joseph Holt after hiring Parabon NanoLabs, to construct a “family tree” from DNA obtained from both crime scenes.

DNA samples taken from Carol’s body during her autopsy, as well as those collected from a blood stain left on Brynn’s shirt, were later matched to the suspect’s brothers. Holt grew up in San Jose, California, was a graduate of Cupertino High School and the University of California, Berkley. In 1974 and moved to South Lake Tahoe in 1974 where he launched a career in real estate, dying in 2014 at the age of 67.

The task force is still investigating whether Holt is responsible for other unsolved crimes. Call the task force tip line at 530-621-4590 if you have any further information on Holt, these two cases or any other unsolved crime.

3 thoughts on “Decades Old Murders in Northern Nevada and Eastern California Solved”

  1. Wonderful writing as always TD.. I know its difficult writing and researching such loss and sorrow.. you should teach writing.. some summer term or workshop on the Oregon Coast Writers Conference in Gold Beach.. write your Obit.. workshop.. I pray that the families and friends can find some peace and or closure if they still survive.. Bless your writing..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I spent 18 years as a civilian working for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Anyone who has read one of John (Camp) Sanford’s novels would know who we are. During that time, I watched as the power of computers doubled every eighteen months and fingerprints were digitalized and digitally compared. This led to a flurry of cold cases being solved. The same thing is happening now with DNA. Especially familial DNA.

    Liked by 1 person

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