In the pages of Texas crime, she is known simply as “Orange Socks.” She was found deceased and completely nude, except for a pair of orange socks on her feet. For years, everyone from law enforcement agencies to internet detectives have tried to find out who the girl was.
On Halloween night, 1979, the body of a young woman was found in a concrete culvert near Interstate 35 outside of Georgetown, about 30 miles north of Austin. She had been the victim of a sexual assault, and had apparently died the same day her body was discovered.
What is known is that she was Anglo, around 5-feet-9, 158 pounds. She had hazel eyes, long brown hair with a reddish tint. She was around 15 and 30 years-old.
She was wearing a silver ring on her right hand and she had pierced ears. At the scene of the crime, there were two matchbooks and a key belonging to a motel in Henrietta, Oklahoma. Some have speculated she traveled down to Georgetown from the north and had recently arrived in the area.
According to Roberto Bayardo, the Travis County medical examiner in 1979, her legs were unshaven and she appeared to have been in an unkempt condition. At the scene of the crime was a towel that was used in place of a sanitary napkin. Bayardo also said she suffered from salpingitis, an inflammation of the fallopian tubes, due to gonorrhea.
Some believe that her appearance and health are evidence that she may have been a prostitute or runaway. However, she had no cavities in her teeth and no indication of any dental work. X-rays showed she never suffered any broken bones. Her fingernails were covered with red polish.
Bayardo concluded she died of manual strangulation. Her neck was extensively bruised. There were also scratches and bruises on her lower back, indicating she had been dragged through grass before she was dumped in the culvert. She had landed face down in the ditch where a slight trickle of water pooled, laying on her right side.
Notorious serial killer Henry Lee Lucas confessed to killing her in 1982. He said she was a hitchhiker and that he had picked her up, killed her and then left her body along Interstate 35. In 1984, Lucas was convicted of her murder and given the death sentence.
In a strange twist, it’s now believed that Lucas probably didn’t have anything to do with killing Orange Socks. Lucas claimed to have killed some 600 people, but later recanted them all.
Lucas contradicted himself several times while confessing to Orange Socks’ murder. There’s even evidence presented by Lucas’ own lawyer suggesting he wasn’t even in Texas at the time of the Orange Socks’ homicide.
“Lucas made a lot of false confessions. I know that in my own mind, he committed at least three murders. Orange Socks just wasn’t one of them,” said Don Higginbotham, Lucas’ lawyer.
In 1998, then-Gov. George W. Bush commuted Lucas’ death sentence to life in prison. Lucas died in prison in 2001.
Orange Socks is buried in Georgetown’s IOOF Cemetery, next to a woman who died on her 99th birthday and an infant who died on the day of his birth. The gray granite tombstone simply says: “Unidentified Woman. 1979.”
Many law enforcement officers and web sleuths still hope to discover who she was, that Orange Socks will get her real name back some day.