Spokane woman identified as victim in Montana cold case

Janet Lee Lucas
Credit: Missoula County Sheriff's Office

MISSOULA, Montana — Remains found in Montana more than three decades ago have finally been identified as those of a missing Spokane woman. 

The victim, who was called Christy Crystal Creek for years, has been identified as Janet Lee Lucas. The 23-year-old woman was from Spokane, but last seen in Sandpoint, Idaho in the summer of 1983. 

Her remains were found by a hunter near Crystal Creek in Missoula County on September 9, 1985. The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office said her identity remained a mystery for years despite work done by forensic anthropologists and odontologists. 

Earlier this year, the Missoula County Cold Case Unit conducted advanced DNA analysis which allowed them to initiate a forensic genetic genealogy investigation. After weeks of research, investigators were able to identify relatives and family trees that led them to Janet’s family in Spokane. 

Janet was born in October 1960 and spent time in both California and Washington. She had a son who was five years old when she went missing and he has spent much of his adult life searching for her. 

“We cannot rest on our success of having finally identified Janet. We must now seek justice for Janet,” said Detective Captain Dave Conway. “Our focus has changed from ‘who is Christy Crystal Creek?’ to ‘what happened to Janet Lucas? This is now a cold case homicide investigation and we need your help.” 

According to the Sheriff’s Office, no records have shown Janet living in or spending time in Montana. They have shared her photo in hopes of finding anyone who may have known or seen her in Missoula in the summer of 1983 and into 1984. 

Janet’s remains were found near the remains of Debbie Deer Creek, another homicide victim killed by serial killer Wayne Nance, known as the “Montana Mauler.” This has investigators reviewing old case files to identify a possible link between Nance and Janet. 

Anyone who may have more information on the case is asked to contact the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office. 

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