A woman’s body is found in a tent bag in the Kentucky woods. A thousand miles away, a family searches for a missing mother of three. Both cases go unsolved for decades, until a man’s obsession and a family’s determination converge, uncovering the truth. -Who Killed Jane Doe?, Investigation Discovery
Who Killed Jane Doe? featured the story of ‘The Tent Girl’ on Investigation Discovery in January 2018. On May 17, 1968, a man walking in the woods in Georgetown, Kentucky discovered a body wrapped in a tent. He reported the finding to authorities who determined that the body was that of a female she didn’t have a nam. This Jane Doe was dubbed ‘The Tent Girl’ in the media because the authorities attempted to find out who she was. She had been murdered and they wanted to find her family. The Tent Girl was buried in a local cemetery in an attempt to honor this girl who didn’t have a name. ‘Who Killed Jane Doe?’ began the episode by explaining that in the early sixties, Barbara Ann ‘Bobbie’ Hackmann of Lexington, Kentucky met George ‘Earl’ Taylor when she was a teenager. He was a single father from Florida who claimed his wife left him to be with another man and he needed a babysitter. Bobbie babysat Earl’s daughter Bonnie while he worked for the Carnival.
Although Earl Taylor was five years older than Bobbie Hackmann, the pair fell in love and decided to get married. Because Earl worked for the Carnival, they moved constantly but in 1964 they settled for an apartment in Miami, Florida. Bobbie and Earl had children of their own and Bobbie’s sister moved to Florida to be closer to her. Then one day, Bobbie told her sister she needed to leave town quickly and asked her for some money. Bobbie told her sister the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) was in town and they were looking for Earl because he went Absent without Leave (AWOL) from the military; Earl did not want to go back in. She told her sister they were moving to Texas. Nobody ever heard from Bobbie Taylor again. When Bobbie’s sister finally caught up with Earl, Bobbie wasn’t with him and he told her that she ran off with another man. Once again Earl’s significant other left their children and ran off with another man. Earl would not tell Bobbie’s sister where Bobbie’s kids were. Bobbie’s family filed an official missing person’s report.
Todd Matthews and Bobbie’s family were both obsessed with finding the same person but they didn’t know it. Todd was looking for the identity of a Jane Doe dubbed ‘The Tent Girl’ and Bobbie’s family was obsessed with finding their missing family member Bobbie Taylor. With the invent of the internet, it helped both Bobbie’s family and Todd Matthews get in touch with one another to compare notes. Todd e-mailed Bobbie’s family to tell them about ‘The Tent Girl’ because he believed the Jane Doe in Kentucky was the missing girl Bobbie Hackmann Taylor. Bobbie’s family contacted the police in Kentucky to find out if their Jane Doe was Bobbie. The authorities found enough similarities between the composite drawing and the real photos that they exhumed The Tent Girl’s remains. After DNA testing, The Tent Girl was indeed a match to Barbara Hackmann. The family finally found their missing Bobbie. Bobbie’s children were relieved to know their mother didn’t walk away from them but devastated that she was found and had been murdered.
Earl’s daughter Bonnie described a night on December 6, 1967 where she was awakened by a struggle in Bobbie and Earl’s bedroom. But, she didn’t want to get in trouble so she fell back asleep. When seven year old Bonnie woke up in the morning, Bobbie was gone. The family suspects that Earl murdered Bobbie and then disposed of her body in the woods. He most likely used tents from the Carnivals he worked at to wrap her body. When Bonnie asked Earl where Bobbie was, she never got an answer from him. When Bonnie returned home from school that same day, Earl had packed up the car and informed the children they were moving. When Bonnie asked about Bobbie again, Earl said “she’ll catch up with us later.” Bonnie said this was the last time she saw or heard from Bobbie. When Bobbie was finally identified via DNA in 1998, authorities couldn’t question Earl because he died of cancer 10 years earlier. Bobbie’s family decided to leave Bobbie in the same plot because she had been part of that community for over thirty years. They cared about ‘The Tent Girl’ and the case is still an open investigation.
Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch all of the Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. Download the ID Go app and binge away. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $2.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict.
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