Home » Victims Spotlight: Alaska’s One-Eyed Jack Doe

Victims Spotlight: Alaska’s One-Eyed Jack Doe

It’s unclear what day in September of 1978 Jack Doe hitched his final ride on the outskirts of Boise, Idaho. It’s also unclear why his killer, a man later identified as Jesse Burt Bishop, stopped to give him a ride. Perhaps it was his new passenger’s hippie-like appearance, which included long hair, a beard and an eyepatch over his left eye–that gave Bishop the impression the man was harmless enough to let into his vehicle. Or perhaps Bishop was simply eager to kill and had no preference as to who died. It certainly would not have been the first “thrill kill” of the 1970’s. A transient hitchhiker would have been ideal for such an attack. Regardless of Bishop’s initial intentions; we know that he reportedly examined his passenger’s driver’s license–an item that has never been located–at some point. It was apparently an Oregon issued license that stated Jack’s age was 32 years old (which would have placed his year of birth in 1946).

In his confession Bishop provided a fairly boiled down account of his time with Jack. Apparently Jack’s original destination was Pendleton, Oregon but, once he learned Bishop was headed for Alaska, decided he would accompany Bishop on the long drive. The driving distance from Idaho to Alaska is approximately 2,768 miles, making for a trip of at least two days. 

Over the course of the trip Jack allegedly revealed various details about himself as the men made small talk. It’s important to take these details with a pinch of salt. Bishop may not have remembered everything about his victim correctly. Or, her may have been lying. At one point Bishop admitted that he was not sure if any of the information was accurate as, according to him, the victim lied quite a bit. What exactly Jack was supposed to have lied about has not been made readily available to the public.

The original sketch of One Eyed Jack Doe.

The original sketch of One-Eyed Jack Doe

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Jack had apparently worked as a logger in Oregon for some time. This led Bishop to assume that the eyepatch covering Jack’s left eye was the result of a logging accident. Jack also mentioned working at a Lincoln car dealership in Colorado or Utah as a car washer. He also mentioned being married at some point. Approximately two days after being picked up, Jack was attacked, strangled and stabbed to death by Jesse Burt Bishop off the Alaska Highway. Jack’s body was then dumped in the nearby woods. It would be over a year before his remains were found by a Tok resident on August 20th, 1979. Skeletal remains and strands of long brown hair were scattered along the roadside, ravaged by animals and the elements. The mandible has never been recovered.

The evidence eventually led the police to Bishop who was in custody in Nevada for a different charge. While in custody, the suspect had willingly given the Alaskan police information on the man he had killed. When asked why he killed Jack, Bishop simply stated “He was getting on my nerves”. Bishop was convicted for the murder. He pleaded guilty and died in prison in 2003. 

It’s a sad story. And an all too familiar one. One of the many cautionary tales that would be used to warn young people about the dangers of hitchhiking, but its a sad story nonetheless. For basically no reason at all, a man was brutally murdered. His killer confessed to the crime and was sent to prison. Case closed. That should have been the end of the matter. But it isn’t, because, despite the victim’s uncanny appearance and allegedly sharing details of his life with his eventual murderer, Jack–better known as One-Eyed Jack Doe to Alaska’s Southeast Fairbanks county–has never been identified; all because his killer couldn’t remember or didn’t bother to learn his full name before discarding him on the side of a deserted road almost 43 years ago.

A composite of One Eyed Jack. His lower jaw was never recovered, which makes it difficult to accurately draw the lower part of his face, hence the blacked out portion.

For Medium.com, Natasha Mullins delved deep into the case of Jack Doe, commenting of the times, “In 1978 when the world was less connected, and the transient “hippie” lifestyle was becoming popular, many people sort of faded away and were assumed to have found their way somewhere. A lot of the unidentified person cases from this decade that have been solved were people that had never been reported missing. Their families had lost contact and assumed they had made a new life for themselves… it is quite likely that he (Jack) falls into this category of free spirits that ended up dying without their past connections having reason to be concerned for their absence. There might not be anyone looking for this man.”

One-Eyed Jack Doe was murdered in Tok, Alaska in September of 1978. Bishop described Jack as tall and in good shape. This was corroborated by an examination of his bones, which placed him as a male of Caucasian descent, measuring around six feet tall and 185 pounds. It is also corroborated by his alleged past employment and clothing. Jack’s body was found wearing a green and brown plaid “Mervyn’s Mark II” jacket (size large), blue jeans (size unknown), a green and white plaid “C.P.O.” type shirt (size unknown), and a white t-shirt. There was also a pair of blue socks and brown leather ankle lace boots found with him as well as a black leather eye patch. When he wasn’t wearing his eyepatch he possibly used the white and orange marble found in his pants pocket as a false eye.

His killer claims he had an Oregon driver’s license which stated his age was 32 years old. The medical examiner would later estimate he could have been aged anywhere between 19 and 39. Jack was a smoker. His body was found with two packs of Winston cigarettes and three books of matches. Bishop may have robbed Jack as he was only found with 15 cents (a dime and nickel in Canadian currency) in his jeans pocket. Jack had possible connections to Idaho, Oregon (particularly the town of Pendleton), Utah, Colorado, and possibly even Canada. At some point in his life, he lost his left eye, most likely due to an accident.

He possibly worked as a logger in Oregon, or at a Lincoln car dealership somewhere in the Northwestern United States. He may have also been married at some point. 

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Mullins’  article also took the time to explore potential missing persons that could be Jack Doe. Mullins’ article excluded, for both physical and circumstantial reasons not matching up, the profiles of John Haywood Barreto and Billy Joe Marshall; while declaring the closest matches being Steven Norman Chait and Franklin David Harder. Mullins’ article said it best, “These men could be completely unrelated to One Eyed Jack, or they could be the answer to this case that so many people have been waiting for. Either way, they are worth talking about.”

John Haywood Barreto

There are few details readily available in the case of John Barreto. The 35 year old was last known to be in Miami, Florida, his last confirmed point of contact was with his parents on January 20th, 1977. John was calling home to ask them to wire him some money. John had served in the army in Vietnam. During this time in his life he experimented with LSD which caused him to develop “mental issues”. At the time of his disappearance he was receiving disability payments; the money would be deposited in an account his mother had access to and he would call her and ask her to send him some as he needed it.

Barreto had taken on the transient lifestyle after returning from war. He was also known to change his appearance quite often, which included shaving his head, growing his hair out long, and growing a beard. At the time of his disappearance he was 5′ 9″ to 5′ 11″ and weighed about 160 pounds with wavy brown hair and blue eyes. Barreto also had some notable physical abnormalities which included an appendectomy scar on his abdomen, a prominent scar down his right arm and a burn scar covering most of the left side of his chest. It’s unclear if these were a result of his time in Vietnam. It is also unclear if John Barreto had a driver’s license.

John Barreto was declared legally dead in 1984. Again, he is most likely not Jack Doe, the investigating agency is currently the Lake Oswego Police Department in Oregon.

Billy Joe Marshall

It is also unlikely that 37 year old Billy Joe Marshall is our Jack Doe. The information available on his case is extremely limited. Marshall disappeared from Ashley, Indiana on April 12th, 1974 (which would have made him 41 in 1978). He was between 5′ 10″ and 6′ 0″, and between 190 and 200 pounds when he disappeared. Billy Joe was also missing an eye. However, while Jack Doe’s left eye was missing, it was the right eye Billy Joe was lacking. It’s unclear if this was the result of a birth defect or an accident. 

The investigating agency in Marshall’s case is currently the Indiana State Police.

Steven Norman Chait

Almost every publication about him describes 20 year old Steven Chait as a serious, complex, studious youth who may have been depressed at the time of his disappearance. His mother mentioned to officials that her son, a Columbia University student, became moody and felt he was letting everyone down after recently changing his major following poor marks in an engineering course.

Chait was employed at Mama Joy’s Delicatessen on Broadway and 113th Street in Manhattan. His hobbies (as of 1972) included listening to classical music, relay running for the Columbia track team, and studying architecture and paintings; Chait was a member of the N.Y. Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. Chait also indulged in community-minded pastimes such as regularly donating blood to the Red Cross. He was also a member of the Sierra Club, an organization dedicated to protecting the environment.  

Steven was last seen on March 13th, 1972, leaving his Furnald Hall dorm. He had spent most of the day listening to music while lounging around his room. At some point, he left and gave his roommate no indication of where he was going or how long he would be gone for. He left behind all of his personal belongings, including his books, passport and several uncashed paychecks. At the time of his disappearance Steven was 5′ 10″ and 155 pounds.

In 1978, he would have been 26 years old. “…His physical description, especially the beard and hair color also match. It’s listed on Steven Chait’s missing person report that he had multiple scars around his left eye. If this was due to an old injury, it’s possible that it could have become reinjured and caused him to lose his eye.”

For twenty-five years following his disappearance, Chait’s mother received several phone calls which she believes were from him. She would answer the phone and the caller would refuse to speak. She assumed the caller was Chait and spoke into the phone, telling him how much she loved him and begging him to come home. After several seconds the caller would hang up. The calls stopped sometime in 1997. The caller has never been identified. His younger sister would go on to establish a track scholarship at Columbia in Steven’s name.

The investigating agency in Chait’s case NYPD Missing Persons Squad. If he were alive today he would be 70 years old.

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Franklin David Harder

The most likely candidate in the case of Jack Doe is then 25 year old Franklin Harder. Little information is available in Harder’s case, or about his early life. He was described as an eccentric person, in his habits and behavior, plus he was a loner to boot. These factors may have been why it took ten days for anyone to notice he was missing and file a missing persons report. At the time of his disappearance, Harder was the caretaker of a property in the Burgdorf area owned by a local couple. He was last seen in Idaho County, Idaho on April 23rd, 1978. Harder was also 6’2″ and 185 pounds. He had long brown hair and a beard, and brown eyes.

Physically, he looks quite similar to the composite sketches of Jack Doe. Based on the clothing found with the body it appears Harder dressed like Jack Doe as well; the handful of pictures available sees Harder in jeans and a plaid shirt. The timeline also matches up, as Mullins article states, “One Eyed Jack started his journey to Tok in Boise Idaho. Between going missing and starting off to Alaska, there is a missing five month period for this potential match. That five month period could have given Franklin time to move to other states in the country, get the job at a Lincoln car dealership, or maybe even lose an eye (although this is a little more unlikely).”

If you have any information about this case you can contact the Idaho County Sherriff’s office at (208) –983–1100.

If you have any information that could help identify One-Eyed Jack please contact either the Alaska Medical Examiner’s Office at (907) 334–2200 or the Alaska State Troopers at (907) 269–5511. His case number is I79–7425 with this agency. In the NamUs system he is #UP12375. Jack Doe’s dentals of his top jaw, and DNA are available for comparison.

Research Sources:

Unidentified Wiki: One-Eyed Jack

NamUs: Unidentified Persons (U.P.) #12375

The Doe Network #2843

Medium.com: One Eyed Jack Doe — The Most Uncanny Unidentified Person by Natasha Mullins

One-Eyed Jack | THE DOE FILES #40 by Kirsty Skye

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Written by Fallon Gannon
True Crime stuff. Way too much coffee. Great with other dogs.
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