Real Name: Lisa Marie Kimmell
Nicknames: Lil Miss
Location: Denver, Colorado to Billings, Montana
Date: March 25, 1988
Details: Lisa Marie Kimmell was an eighteen-year-old girl who worked as a manager at a fast food restaurant. Sometime after 4:30 pm on March 25, 1988, she left her home in Denver, Colorado to go visit her boyfriend, Ed Jaroch, in Cody, Wyoming, and planned to go to Billings, Montana, to visit her parents afterward. When she left, she was driving her black 1988 Honda CRX with the license plate "LIL MISS". Weather conditions were good, so she should have made it to Ed's home in about eight hours, arriving late Friday night. However, she never arrived at Ed's home, so the next morning, he called several highway patrols. The Wyoming Highway Patrol told him that she was stopped briefly for speeding sixty miles south of Casper, Wyoming, at around 9 pm on Friday night. A signature on the police citation and a voice recording proved that the woman stopped was Lisa. However, no one is sure just what happened to her after the traffic stop.
On April 2, 1988, mechanic Greg Bradford was walking along the North Platte River when he found her body floating in the river near Casper, Wyoming. Autopsy revealed she had been beaten, bound, and raped before she had been murdered. She had been stabbed six times. On a bridge a quarter mile away, authorities found her blood and believed that she was murdered early on Saturday, March 26 based on eyewitness accounts. Because the bridge was somewhat inaccessible and seldom used, it was believed that the killer was a local.
Surprisingly, she, her car, and an unidentified man were seen hundreds of times after the time she was believed to have been killed; the most reliable sightings came on March 26 and 27. One was in Casper, just twenty miles from where her body was found, and the other two were in Buffalo. The Casper sighting occurred on the 27th, when Diana Houston noticed the personalized "Lil Miss" license plate on a car, and she saw someone with blonde hair and wearing a yellow sweater. Then, Donna Kirkpatrick reported the day before that she saw her pulling out in front of her, saw the license plate, and then saw her with a pink sweater driving. Curiously, Lisa's parents do not believe that she owned either a pink or a yellow sweater. Two hours after Donna saw her, another eyewitness also saw her in Buffalo, but this time an unknown man was with her. The cashier saw her license plate, then saw her and a small man.
Authorities have several troubling questions in this case, including how could she have been seen after she was supposedly killed, or why did she not signal for help, and finally where is her car. Her black 1988 Honda CR-X with the license plate, "Lil Miss," has not yet been found.
Suspects: Authorities suspected that the man seen in the car matching the description of Lisa's car may have been involved in the case. However, because the eyewitness descriptions were so different, no official composite was released.
The authorities cleared the officer who had stopped Lisa as well as a former investigator who had committed suicide. DNA cleared the suicide victim post-mortem. The only other piece of evidence was an envelope with a short letter inside left at her grave on October 13, 1988. It was signed "Stringfellow Hawke," a fictional character from the TV series, Airwolf.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the March 15, 1989 episode. It was also featured on Cold Case Files on A&E and Nightmare Next Door and later On the Case with Paula Zahn on Investigation Discovery. Lisa's mother, Shelia Kimmell, published the book, The Murder of Lil Miss on her daughter's murder.
Results: Solved. In 2002, DNA from Lisa's body was tested and linked to Dale Wayne Eaton, who was by then serving a sentence in prison on an unrelated weapons charge. Eaton had previously been convicted of kidnapping a family at gunpoint in 1997. Eaton was also charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of his cellmate, Clay Palmer, but was acquitted. When questioned, Eaton's neighbors noted that around the time of Lisa's murder, Eaton was digging a large hole on his property. Lisa's vehicle was found buried in the same location. It was determined that Lisa was held at his property for six days before she was killed. Eaton was convicted of her murder and given the death penalty. However, his death sentence was overturned in 2014 after a judge found that he received inadequate defense at his trial. He is currently awaiting another sentencing hearing; the state plans to again seek the death penalty. Lisa's parents were awarded Eaton's property in a civil suit and burned the buildings to the ground on what would have been Lisa's thirty-sixth birthday.
Authorities were never able to explain the sightings of Lisa or her car, other than that the witnesses were mistaken. Eaton is now considered a possible suspect in the "Great Basin Murders" a series of unsolved murders throughout the Pacific Northwest which took place between 1983 and 1996. He is also a possible suspect in the disappearance of Amy Wroe Bechtel. A subsequent investigation determined that he was in the area around the time of Amy's disappearance. However, he has not been charged in her case or any other case.
- Lisa Marie Kimmel at Unsolved.com
- Lisa Marie Kimmel at Wikipedia
- Achive on Dale Eaton charged with Lisa's murder
- 2004 Article about Lisa's case
- Prosecutor again seeks execution of Dale Wayne Eaton