New DNA IDs Mich. victim, killer in 1982 Tahoe murder

Scott Sonner
Associated Press
Washoe County Sheriff's investigators displayed this family tree created by the DNADoeProject during a news conference in Reno, Nev., on Tuesday, May 7, 2019.

New DNA evidence in a cold case murder at Lake Tahoe 37 years ago has determined the woman whose body was found near a hiking trail in 1982 was killed by a man who committed suicide in jail a year later after confessing to three other murders in California.

Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam said at a news conference in Reno Tuesday he has closed the investigation into the shooting death of the victim now identified as Mary Silvani. She was born in Pontiac, Michigan in 1948 and attended high school in Detroit before moving to California.

Known as “Sheep’s Flat Jane Doe,” deputies found her body in July 1982 near a popular hiking trail in the Sheep’s Flat area near Tahoe’s north shore just off the Mount Rose Highway above Incline Village.

Balaam says her killer was James Richard Curry, who was born in Texas in 1946 and served prison time for robbery there before he was arrested in California in January 1983.

He says Curry confessed to a 1982 murder in Santa Clara and two killings in the San Jose-area in January 1983 but died in a Santa Clara jail before he went to trial.