LAPD: Parker Center Cop Shop Files — ‘Little Cowboy’


Police sketches of “Little Cowboy” by LAPD artist F.G. Ponce.

I call her “Little Cowboy” because her shirt said “I’m a Little Cowboy.”  She was Jane Doe No. 62, coroner’s No. 77-8735, DR 77 596-048

In case you just tuned in, I was given a box of material that was cleaned out of the old press room at the LAPD’s Parker Center headquarters, sometimes called “the cop shop.” The box was a jumble of press releases, photographs, artists’ sketches and other items dating from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. I am organizing and cataloging the material and I’ll be posting selected items on a weekly basis.

July 21, 1977: About 8 p.m., the body of  “Little Cowboy,” a girl 3 to 5 years old, was found near Sunset and Glendale Boulevards. She was described as Latin, “brown hair, brown eyes, 37 inches long, 28 pounds.” Her upper front teeth were chipped. She had pierced ears and shoulder-length brown hair tied with an elastic band.


She was wearing a shirt with the picture of a cowboy and the phrase “I’m a Little Cowboy.”

As far as I can determine, The Times never wrote about this case, so there are no further details. There are many sad discoveries in the Parker Center files, but “Little Cowboy” is one of the worst. If she had lived, she would be about 40 years old now. It’s hard to believe somebody, somewhere doesn’t miss her or think about her.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1977, Cold Cases, LAPD, Parker Center Cop Shop Files and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to LAPD: Parker Center Cop Shop Files — ‘Little Cowboy’

  1. Eve says:

    Does the LAPD discard old photos, files, etc., from time to time? I wanted to write about a 1923 murder case here in New York, and was told, “oh, all that stuff was dumped into the river years ago–files, photos, all gone.” I was horrified.


    • lmharnisch says:

      That’s a short question with a long answer. It depends on the age and the jurisdiction. James Ellroy, for example, was able to access the files on his mother’s killing from the 1950s because it was a Sheriff’s Department case.

      I know the LAPD also saves files, but I’m not sure how far back and in the past it has been most unwilling to open case files. The LAPD recently digitized its famous “murder books,” which are binders with summaries of homicide cases. However, I happen to know that some of the murder books are missing because I have helped the cold case unit with research to fill in a few the blanks.

      To the best of my knowledge, all the LAPD’s files on the Robert Kennedy assassination were transferred to the state archives.

      It’s possible the files from some of the big cases might be saved, but the average, run-of-the mill case, probably not.


      • Advocate says:

        Thank you so much! I see she is not listed in NamUs; our national missing & unidentified person’s database. I’m seeing what can be done about that. They may also see about exhuming her for DNA. This is assuming they could even find where she is buried. With some unidentified persons Isotope testing is done to see if it can be determined where they grew up. I do not know if that’s a possibility here; would be nice.


  2. Santos L. Halper says:

    Horrible. And how does a little girl’s body end up at a major intersection in one of the biggest cities on Earth at 8pm and no one saw anything?

    Liked by 1 person

    • lmharnisch says:

      It’s baffling. Too bad The Times didn’t write anything about it, but that was another era. Today it would be all over the Internet. Someone, somewhere must remember this little girl. One would think, anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mary Mallory says:

    Couldn’t they possibly find something about her now through DNA?


  4. Any idea what the stats are on how likely one is to find DNA, over time? For example, have there been cases where a body was exhumed after 50 years, & the DNA was not too degraded to use? Does the stat change, if the DNA sample has been in police evidence lockers? I know every case is different, but speaking in general terms, is there a resource for those kind of numbers, from your journalistic experience?


    • Justin says:

      If her remains were not cremated, then it may be possible.

      I do know that San Bernardino Sheriff-Coroner’s Office were able to get the DNA from a Jane Doe that was located in May 20, 1969, buried in a shallow grave when they exhumed her remains for testing in 2011. The coroner in 1969 originally thought the remains were that of a young male due to the narrow hips, but DNA determined that the remains were female. She was later identified as 14-year-old Elizabeth Lurene Ernstein who vanished on March 18, 1968 from Mentone, California. DNA taken from her brother and sister confirmed that the remains were hers on August 17, 2012.


  5. loneraiderfan says:

    I know when we got my Sister’s kidnapping case from 1961 reopened about 15 years ago that a lot of evidence was missing. Hopefully it was lost, I do hope it was not discaded.


  6. Justin says:

    She has been identified. I checked with NamUs and they contacted the LA Coroner who said as much. I don’t know the details or when she was identified, but they now know who she is.

    Liked by 1 person

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