The Deck - Dana Ramm (Jack of Hearts, California)

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Our card this week is Dana Ram, the Jack of Hearts from California.

Just shy of New Year’s Eve in 1986, 20-year-old Dana Ram vanished from a gas station parking

lot in a small California town.

When her body was found the morning after she disappeared, her friends and family were

heartbroken, but they helped police piece together the last moments of Dana’s life.

Without any tips generated for decades, police are now turning to the public for help identifying

a biker who might be the missing piece in one of California’s coldest cases.

I’m Ashley Flowers, and this is The Deck.

On Monday, December 29th, 1986, a woman was driving to work on a country road near Senoal,

California, when she spotted something on the shoulder of the road.

At first, she couldn’t tell what it was because it was early, like 7.30, and it was

one of those foggy, Bay Area mornings, on top of the fact that it was the week between

Christmas and New Year’s when you just can’t fathom getting out of bed and dragging yourself

to work.

But as she slowed to peer out her window and get a better look, it came into focus.

It was a woman lying naked and motionless on the side of the road.

Out racing, practically beating out of her body, she sped up and continued down the road

until she spotted a public works crew doing some road maintenance.

She stopped, told them what she’d seen, and led the crew back to the woman.

Without getting too close to what they quickly realized was a crime scene, they could tell

that the woman was dead.

As they were about to leave to find a phone and call 911, a California Department of Forestry

and Fire Protection officer also rolled up.

They radioed for emergency crews to respond right away, and a fire engineer cordoned off

the road a couple hundred feet in both directions to stop any cars that tried to pass.

Just as an ambulance pulled up, investigators from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office

arrived and took over the scene.

Medics and investigators could tell that the woman was young, but they couldn’t tell

how she’d died or even how she’d gotten there.

She was laying face up, her pale skin, reddish blonde hair, and blue eyes, a harsh contrast

to the dirt and gravel off the side of the paved road.

She had a little blood coming from her nose and mouth, some bruising on her neck, and

scrapes on her knees and elbows, or at least her right elbow, because that’s all they

could see.

Her left arm was awkwardly trapped under her body, and her knees were bent.

There weren’t any items left near her body, and her clothes were nowhere to be found.

But there were a few things left on her body.

She had some rings on her right hand and a necklace with a cannabis leaf pendant around

her neck.

The coroner’s bureau didn’t get there until after 10.30 a.m., but once they arrived on

scene, they recovered the woman’s body and took her away for an autopsy.

While they hoped the exam would offer some clarity to this growing mystery, the question

they wanted answered most was who was she?

After she was taken away, detectives hung back and combed the area.

They found some alcohol bottles and a leather glove, but they were several feet down the


And we learned from our interview with Detective Patrick Smith at the Alameda County Sheriff’s

Office that this area was notorious as a teenage hangout spot, a roadside shoulder where local

high schoolers pulled over and partied on Friday nights.

So detectives figured the items could just be litter from teens, but they collected them

just in case.

As soon as law enforcement processed the scene, investigators and Sheriff’s Office Patrol

units started canvassing, but there weren’t exactly houses nearby, or they could go door-knocking.

The area even today is pretty bare.

Detective Smith took our reporting team to the exact spot where she was found, and you

can see a picture of it along with a map of the area on our blog post for this episode.

That’s at

There aren’t any houses or businesses around, just flatlands with grazing cattle flanking

the road on either side.

So police started looking for witnesses a few miles north, closer to the highway where

there was at least a gas station.

But no one at the gas station up the road had any helpful information.

One patrol unit paid a visit to the woman who had spotted the body on her way to work

that morning.

I mean, poor thing was so shaken up that she just turned around and went home instead of

continuing on to work.

But she didn’t have much else to offer.

The Sheriff’s Office checked to see if they had any similar missing persons reports on

file, but they didn’t.

So the Sheriff’s Office sent out a bulletin describing the woman to other police agencies

in the East Bay, just in case any of their missing people matched her description.

Not long after they put that bulletin out, at about 7 p.m. or so, the Alameda County

Sheriff’s Office got a phone call from a neighboring police department.

Law enforcement in the nearby city of Pleasanton had just received a missing persons report

for a 20-something young woman named Dana, pale, reddish-blonde hair, and blue eyes.

The Sheriff’s Office was told that her two friends, Cody and Tracy, had been searching

for her since the wee hours of that morning.

This didn’t seem like a coincidence, so Cody and Tracy were told to go to the Alameda

County Sheriff’s Office and to bring a picture of Dana.

As soon as they got there with the picture and a little more info on Dana, deputies ran

her name and date of birth in their database, and they saw Dana’s fingerprints, which

police had on file from a misdemeanor drug arrest earlier that year.

And sure enough, it was her, 20-year-old Dana Ram.

Detectives had Cody and Tracy stick around for questioning, while other deputies drove

to nearby Livermore, 20 minutes northeast of Sunol, to notify Dana’s family.

Dana’s sister, Carla, told our reporting team that she will never forget that night.

I just had gotten my consoles out, and then my mom and I were just watching TV, and there

was a knock on the door at ten o’clock at night, and no one comes to the house at ten

o’clock at night.

And the cops told my mom and dad, and yeah, you can’t get the screams out of your head.

The Ram family was stunned.

Like the way you would think about someone who has just been struck by lightning.

In a single instant, their entire world changed.

And all at once, it was too hard to breathe, hard to stand, and even hard to think straight.

How could it happen that fast?

This has to be some kind of mistake.

They hadn’t talked to her in a while, but it wasn’t unusual for them to go a few days,

even weeks, without hearing from Dana.

So no one even knew to be worried about her.

Dana’s mom said that the last time she’d spoken to her daughter was just over a month


Right after Thanksgiving, she’d reached out to Dana after reading in the local paper that

Dana was involved in a bizarre incident.

Apparently, Dana had gotten in a fight with her friend Tracy’s sister.

Now, the fight was pretty convoluted and honestly not even worth getting into, but basically,

Tracy and her sister got into an argument over something, and their boyfriends both

got involved.

Dana ended up chiming in at some point, and then Tracy’s sister and Dana started physically

fighting each other.

And the sister ended up biting off the tip of Dana’s left ring finger, which is like,


So, I mean, I get why Dana’s mom was worried about her after reading that in the newspaper.

But she got ahold of Dana, and Dana was like, I’m fine, Mom.

And Mom believed her, for better or for worse.

Now, even though this was weird and maybe, you know, interesting to police as a potential

lead, unfortunately, none of Dana’s family had any more helpful information to give investigators.

It would be up to them to piece together this puzzle.

Dana’s autopsy was done the next day, and not like there was any doubt that it was her,

but the coroner confirmed that she was, in fact, missing a fingertip.

The autopsy results indicated that Dana died by asphyxiation from manual strangulation,

and the examiner noted other scrapes on her body.

Here’s Detective Smith.

You look at the evidence that, you know, she did have some, you know, bruising on her wrist.

She had some abrasions on her elbows and knees, but there wasn’t a massive amount of evidence

to suggest that there was a prolonged altercation of any kind.

In Dana’s case, the autopsy report didn’t indicate any trauma from sexual assault, but

there was semen present, though what they were really hoping for in 1986 were hairs

or fibers, which they could actually use to match to a suspect, but they didn’t find

any of those.

When detectives started doing interviews to find out exactly what happened to Dana, detectives

first focused on Tracy and Cody, the friends who reported her missing.

At this point, police weren’t even sure who these people were to Dana, so they needed

to do some background work.

Police started with Tracy, who told them that she and Dana had been friends for eight years.

The more Tracy talked, the more detectives got a sense for the free spirit that Dana was.

The East Bay Times called her a quote-unquote flower child living in the 80s, and her sister

Carla told us that Dana was airy, never stressed.

She was a young, bright woman with a future ahead of her.

She was clever, she loved children, and she loved riding her father’s motorcycle.

Police learned from Tracy that Dana did what most young adults dream of doing.

After graduating high school in June of 85, a year and a half before she was killed, Dana

hit the road to do some soul-searching.

Carla told us that Livermore was kind of a cowboy town, and her sister yearned for something


She’s at a place in Livermore, if she just traveled 30 minutes up the road to Berkeley,

she’d fit in.

She was very hippie-ish, very la-la-la, free love.

After working any odd job that she could find and spending time with a boyfriend in

South Lake Tahoe, which is about three and a half hours northeast of East Bay, Dana returned

to the Bay Area in November.

Tracy told police that the two of them only started hanging around Cody a few months ago,

and during that time, Dana went between living in a hotel room in the East Bay and kind of

van-lifing with Cody and Tracy in her rusted blue Ford 1966 van.

Sometime around Christmas, the trio left their motel room and went on a road trip, initially

driving with Cody to his family’s house and then sleeping in Dana’s van in some

East Bay parking lots for a few nights after the holiday.

Tracy said that the last day they saw Dana, December 28th, nothing particularly eventful


That morning, Dana told Tracy and Cody that she needed a break from the van and that she

was going to go hang out with someone over at a nearby racquetball club.

She asked Tracy and Cody to meet her there a few hours later, and they agreed to swing

by at like 4 or 4.30 p.m., but Tracy said that Dana didn’t stick to their plan.

Instead, she went over to her on-again, off-again boyfriend John’s home in Livermore.

Tracy knew this because when she and Cody drove by the racquetball club that afternoon

and didn’t see Dana’s van parked out front, they assumed that she was at John’s, and

so they drove by his place to check, and just as they expected, Dana’s van was there.

The two left a note on her windshield telling Dana to meet them at a nearby park.

Tracy told police that she and Cody waited for Dana in the park, and they waited, but

by the time it got dark outside, they were really starting to wonder where she was.

So they drove back toward John’s house, and they practically bumped into Dana.

They were both driving down the same street.

They followed each other downtown to get a bite to eat, Dana in her Ford van and the

duo in Tracy’s Oldsmobile.

They all ate dinner at Carl’s Jr. and then drove separately for a few miles and then

found a spot where Dana parked her van, and they all hopped into Tracy’s car.

The three of them just kind of cruised around, stopping by friends’ houses to see if anyone

wanted to hang out.

By 11 p.m., Tracy’s car was nearly out of gas, so they pulled into a gas station in

Pleasanton just as the tank hit empty.

So Tracy and Cody hopped out and pushed it the rest of the way to the pump.

Problem though, the gas station was closing, so the pumps were turned off.

The group needed to figure out their next move, fast.

So Tracy said that by 11.20, she and Cody started the two-mile trek to where Dana parked

her van, while Dana stayed in the gas station parking lot in the Oldsmobile.

Tracy told investigators that Dana gave them the van’s keys and said that she left her

purse in the van, which also had some money in it that she’d gotten from John earlier,

totaling a bit less than 20 bucks.

Once at Dana’s van, their plan was to drive it back to the gas station, sleep in it, and

then use the cash the next morning when the pumps reopened.

So that’s exactly what they did.

Now since the gas station was exactly two miles from where Dana’s van was parked, it

would take the average person around 40 minutes to walk there, and like five minutes to drive


To investigators, this would put them back at the gas station with Dana a little after


When they got back though, Tracy told detectives that her car was still there, but Dana wasn’t.

So immediately Tracy’s worried that, you know, Dana’s gone, they had no way to get a hold

of her.

You know, they thought, well, maybe she’s gone, she’ll come back soon.

They waited there in the parking lot there between the Safeway and the Chevron gas station.

She did not return.

Tracy knew Dana well.

Dana didn’t always play by the rules, sure, but Tracy knew that she would have left a

note saying where she’d gone.

This was pre-cell phone, so the group often communicated with windshield notes.

Tracy said that Cody tried to calm her down because she was already spiraling as they

looked across the parking lot and found no sign of her.

Tracy said they pushed her car off the pumps and into a parking spot, and they just stayed

awake until like three in the morning, sitting in the parking lot, hoping that Dana would


And this would all be some big misunderstanding, but Dana never showed up.

It’s likely she got in someone’s vehicle, whether that was willingly or unwillingly.

I do think that given the time of what she was wearing, knowing that her friends were

coming back, you don’t have cell phones in those days.

So is it possible she could have went to a nearby pay phone and called somebody?


Whether she did that or whether someone just pulled up and saw her there, you know, I do

believe she got into a car.

It’s just a matter of was that willingly or unwillingly?

Tracy said that she and Cody eventually fell asleep in Dana’s van and woke up at around

9 a.m. with pits in their stomachs when they realized that Dana still hadn’t turned up.

They took the money from Dana’s purse and put some gas in Tracy’s car and started canvassing

the neighborhood.

Cody and Tracy didn’t want to drive Dana’s van because it had expired registration tags,

so Tracy said that they just left it parked at the gas station.

Through the late morning and early afternoon on December 29th, Tracy said that she and

Cody drove from friend’s house to friend’s house to see if anybody had heard from Dana.

They stopped at the liquor store where John worked, but he told them that he hadn’t seen

Dana since she left his place at around 5 p.m. the day before.

And all of their friends in Livermore had no more information than the next person.

But then what Tracy said they did next had me scratching my head a little.

They drove to the mall.

They walked around and Tracy said she tried on some makeup, but like, why are you testing

makeup while your friend is MIA?

Detectives didn’t love this either, but they wanted Tracy to keep talking, so they didn’t

dwell on it.

Tracy said that after the mall, she and Cody went back to the gas station parking lot one

last time just to grab a radio and a blanket from Dana’s van.

They briefly hung out at a nearby park, again, no real sense of urgency to find their friend

here, but they made one last stop at a friend’s house who suggested that they report Dana

missing, finally.

So that’s when Tracy and Cody drove to a motel and used a phone booth to call in and report

Dana missing.

Police felt like they had a good sense of Dana’s last movements after interviewing


So now they wanted to go talk to Cody to see how his recollections stacked up against Tracy’s.

In his interview with police, Cody said that he’d met Dana and Tracy through this 24-year-old

guy named Dennis, who Tracy was actually dating.

You see, when Cody moved to Livermore like a month prior, he’d moved into the same

hotel as Dennis, and Dennis hooked Cody up with a job as a carpenter’s helper.

Tracy and Dennis broke up soon after Cody came to town, but she and Dana still hung

out with Cody.

In fact, at some point, Dana had a little fling with Cody, but she ended that and also

broke things off with a previous boyfriend to see where things might go with that John

guy in Livermore.

The mention of a romantic relationship with their victim made deputies perk up.

But Cody said that he and Dana were just like casual hookup buddies, and they never actually

like dated dated.

He said it was totally cool with him if she wanted to see other people, so that was that.

All Cody’s answers and timeline matched with Tracy’s.

He said that the last time they saw Dana, she was sitting alone in the car.

And that’s actually a thought that pains Dana’s sister.

She was just a young woman.

She had a dress on.

It was recorded the coldest night in history, and she’s freezing, sitting in a car in a

gas station all by herself.

And the doors didn’t work.

The locks didn’t work.

So she couldn’t even lock herself in or put the heater on.

After talking to Tracy and Cody, police swiftly combed Dana’s van and Tracy’s car for any

clues that could lead them to the killer.

Investigators actually did find a few interesting things in Tracy’s car.

Some articles of clothing and other items were spotted with mysterious stains.

But when the items were tested, they realized the stains weren’t blood.

So if the physical evidence was a bust, then they were going to have to get info from witnesses,

starting with the gas station clerk who’d actually seen Dana and her friends the night

she vanished.

The clerk told police that he actually remembered seeing Dana walk into the store and go to

the bathroom just as he was closing up shop on Sunday night.

After Dana went back outside to the car, the clerk remembered seeing her talk with two

other people, presumably Tracy and Cody.

The Chevron attendant told police that he saw Tracy and Cody start walking north toward

the interstate while Dana stayed at the car, which was still parked next to the gas pumps.

The clerk told police that he closed up shop for the night and Dana was still sitting there

when he left, but she wasn’t the only one.

According to him, around the same time that Dana and her friends were at the gas station

that night, there was another car there too.

It was a Toyota Coupe, and the gas station attendant just so happened to know the guy

who was driving it, but he couldn’t say for sure that the other car was still there

when he left for the night.

Detectives tracked the guy down, the one that was driving the Coupe, as well as the other

people who were reportedly in the car with him that night, and they all remembered seeing

Dana, Cody, and Tracy, but the groups didn’t say much to each other and they didn’t see

anything weird or suspicious, so they actually weren’t much help at all.

Detectives wasted no time in moving on talking to the other guy Tracy had mentioned during

her interview, John, the guy whose house Tracy said she saw Dana’s van at on the 28th.

The sheriff’s office sent a patrol unit to John’s house to see if he would come into

the station for an interview, and he did.

John was forthcoming with police.

He said that he met Dana through a mutual friend on a softball team, and according to

John, his relationship with her was casual and functioned when it was convenient for

them, like they would hook up when Dana was around but didn’t talk all that much when

she wasn’t in the East Bay.

John told investigators that Dana cut things off with him the year before when she was

dating someone else, but because they were both newly single, the two recently rekindled

their romance.

After seeing each other in early December, they had planned to meet up again after the

holidays, and they ended up getting together on the 28th, Dana’s last day alive.

Just as Tracy had suspected, John confirmed that Dana did drive to his house in her blue


He said that they hung out with some other friends and watched the 49ers Rams game.

Now, my research says that the Rams played Washington on December 28th, 1986, but that’s

neither here nor there.

Later in the day, though, he said that he and Dana had sex.

John told police that Dana left his house at around five that afternoon, and before

she left, she asked to borrow five bucks.

John knew that Dana didn’t have a ton of money saved up, so he took Dana to the bank,

withdrew 20 from his account, and gave it to her.

The two then drove back to John’s place, and Dana took off in her van.

John was also able to give detectives a detailed description of exactly what Dana was wearing

that day, a digital watch, a plaid skirt, and matching brown blouse.

She was also wearing a necklace with a cannabis leaf charm, and calf-length heeled tan boots.

After Dana left, John said he had a relatively average night on the town.

He went to a local saloon, which he left at around 10 p.m., and then he stopped by a restaurant

for an hour or so and finished his night at a club in Pleasanton.

John drove back home from the club just before midnight because he said that he wanted to

go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Dana Smith said John reacted just as anyone would react to finding out that a close friend

had died.

They had him take a polygraph, and he passed.

Now while the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office were conducting all of these interviews, there

was just one person they still really wanted to know more about.

And that’s Dana’s last boyfriend, Stuart, who Tracy said Dana lived with in South Lake


But here’s the thing.

Police weren’t sure if he was still alive.

You see, after she and Stuart broke up, Dana returned to the East Bay and told her friends

that Stuart had died by suicide.

But a few days after Dana’s body was found, on January 2nd, 1987, the Sheriff’s Office

got a call that stopped them in their tracks.

It was Stuart.

And he was like, I heard you’ve been looking for me.

Stuart agreed to meet police at the station that same day.

When he sat down for his interview, investigators’ first question was a no-brainer.

Why did Dana tell everyone you’re dead?

He explained it like their relationship was like a Romeo and Juliet relationship.

And after they broke up, she just started spreading the rumor that he had died.

Detectives pressed him on their relationship, and Stuart told investigators that he and

Dana had known each other for three years.

He said Dana broke up with him when she left South Lake Tahoe for the East Bay in November.

She just told him that she needed space.

Up to that point, Stuart said that he and Dana were living together in South Lake Tahoe

out of their van.

Investigators obviously wanted to know Stuart’s whereabouts during the time Dana was murdered,

and he told them that he was actually in Oregon when Dana was killed, which ended up being


Stuart’s employer in Oregon told detectives that he was at work until 9 p.m. on December

28th, and he showed up to work the next day too.

So with a solid alibi, police had no reason to hold Stuart.

They moved on, interviewing anyone and everyone in Dana’s life.

So the next person they turned to was a guy that you might remember from earlier.

The one who helped Cody land that job in Livermore, Dennis.

And Dennis was already known to police because on Christmas Day, they were called to a home

for a strange incident involving him.

The Pleasanton Police Department responded to an address, a residence in Pleasanton,

where someone was reportedly threatening two subjects with a handgun, and the two subjects

were Cody and Tracy.

If you remember from earlier, Dennis and Tracy had just broken up, which created some

tension between everyone.

And adding to that tension was the fact that Dennis’ car had been stolen around Christmas,

and he heard that Tracy might have stolen it, so he was fuming.

Dennis accused Cody, Tracy, and Dana of stealing not only his car, but also some personal belongings

from his room when all four of them were living at the motel.

When Dennis’ father heard about his son’s suspicions, he took things too far.

Just before 7pm on Christmas Day, Dennis and his father went to Tracy’s parents’ home

in Pleasanton.

And when he got there, Dennis’ dad pulled a revolver on Tracy and Cody.

He yelled at them and told them they were under some sort of citizen’s arrest, and

he threatened to kill them right there if they even thought about running.

Dennis knew that the situation had gotten way out of hand, so he grabbed the gun from

his dad and stashed it in his dad’s car.

Tracy’s dad called the police, who found the gun in the car when they arrived on scene.

Dennis’ father was arrested, and neither Cody nor Tracy were found in possession of

Dennis’ car.

Now, notably, Dana wasn’t there when all this went down, but police heard that Dennis

wasn’t very fond of Dana because he thought that she helped Tracy steal his car.

Plus, according to rumors going around, Dana had refused a sexual advance that Dennis made.

Here’s what Detective Smith had to say about Dennis and Dana.

And just to clarify, we were asked to bleep Dennis’ last name.

He had called, made insults about her and saying things that she was foul-mouthed and

that quote-unquote he would tear her throat out because he believed that Dana had helped

Tracy steal his vehicle.

Despite the Christmas Day incident and Dennis’ clear aversion to Dana, police couldn’t

connect him or his dad to Dana’s murder.

In fact, Dennis and his dad both took polygraph tests and passed.

After they exhausted that lead, Dana’s case went cold.

The 80s were this gray area for DNA.

Some agencies were able to test their samples, others weren’t.

It just really depended on the department, and I’m not sure Alameda County was ahead

of its time.

But finally, in 2001, DNA that had been collected from Dana’s body, like samples from her

fingernails, as well as reference samples from John, Tracy, and Cody, were all sent

to a private forensic DNA lab.

The sample that came from the sexual assault kit taken when Dana was found matched John’s


But he and his friends at the house on December 28th confirmed that he and Dana had sex that

afternoon, so it didn’t really help investigators advance the case.

And unfortunately, nothing came from her fingernail clippings.

Again, this is one of the cases that we’re looking into as far as re-examining some evidence.

There’s not, the difficulty here is, with this case is, the evidence from the scene

where Dana’s found, it’s, there’s not a lot, so unfortunately.

It’s just been a small amount of stuff to work with regarding, you know, stuff related

to a crime scene.

We really don’t have a crime scene, we have, again, in all likelihood, her body is dumped


But where this strangulation took place, it’s kind of like, where are her clothing at?

Her clothing is, we never found that.

So obviously where this, the murder took place is the actual crime scene.

We have the evidence we find, you know, with Dana when she’s found on the side of the road.

Dana’s case was formally reopened by detectives in Alameda County in 2005.

According to reporting by SFGATE, a $5,000 reward was offered that year to try and breathe

new life into the cold case, but no breakthroughs came from the reward announcement.

But when detectives started to reexamine the case files, they became suspicious of a man

who had never been considered a person of interest, a man who police connected to another

murder that happened nearby in Livermore that same year that Dana was killed.

On July 24th, 1986, a 59-year-old nurse was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in

her home, and it didn’t take long for police to find her killer.

Almost eight months after the tragedy, investigators found physical evidence that put the nurse’s

27-year-old neighbor, Richard Tully, right at the crime scene.

Richard admitted that he was at the scene, but vehemently denied killing the woman.

But no one bought that.

Richard was eventually sentenced to death for her murder in 1992.

Because of their proximity in age and similar locations, Dana and Richard had some mutual


So detectives wondered if maybe Richard was responsible for Dana’s murder, but police

never found anything that linked him to the gas station or the area where Dana’s body

was left.

Especially then, even now, Livermore is not a city.

It’s a very safe city.

They don’t have a lot of violent crime.

I don’t work for Livermore.

I grew up and lived in the area.

If they had one or two murders a year, that’s probably about it, on average, maybe three.

It’s a relatively safe city, so especially, you know, when something like that happens

and people run in the same circles, it catches your attention.

Detective Smith checked old case reports and he didn’t think Richard Tully was ever interviewed

or asked if he had anything to do with Dana’s murder.

He said that Richard lived near the high school Dana attended, but that’s the closest link

any investigator could ever come up with.

Richard isn’t the only person of interest Detective Smith is still thinking about.

You see, when investigators searched Dana’s van, they found something that they haven’t

been able to shake for 36 years.

It was a letter, and Detective Smith isn’t sure if any of the original investigators

ever looked into its contents.

The letter was to Tracy.

It was dated September 7th, 1986, which was just a few months before Dana was murdered.

And the letter muses about this person that Dana had met and had had a sexual encounter

with while in South Lake Tahoe.

It was a person that she called Happy, and she said this person was from Sinole.

The tone of the letter was overwhelmingly positive, like she was crushing hard on this

guy, but Happy, whoever he is, has never been identified by police.

And Detective Smith really wants to interview Happy, whoever he may be.

If there was a listener that knew, was familiar with Sinole, had lived in Sinole, was friends

with somebody, people in Sinole, around that time, someone’s going to know who he is.

The other details we have about Happy are very limited, because Dana didn’t provide

much description at all.

But Dana made it sound like Happy lived in Sinole for a long time, maybe even grew up

there, and was in South Lake Tahoe for just a little while, most likely just passing through.

Dana also wrote that Happy had previously lived in Hawaii, and they were a biker.

She said that his dad was a biker too, and they both owned Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Detectives need to know who Happy is and what he was up to when Dana vanished into the night.

Happy could be the missing piece in this convoluted puzzle, but the clock is truly ticking.

It’s been 36 years since Dana was murdered, and Happy still remains nameless.

She’s found in Sinole.

Sinole’s a very small place, and you look at the area, when you have killers who transport

victims and dispose of their bodies places, you know, many times they go to a place they’re

Because they know what’s there.

There’s a comfortability factor.

A lot of times they’re driving to a place because they know where this place is at.

Could this mean something?

I would love to know who Happy is, and I’d be able to identify Happy.

Sometimes I tell you at the end of these episodes that the help you can give law enforcement

is a shot in the dark or a reach, but I truly don’t feel that way in this case.

The impact this unthinkable tragedy has had on the Ram family is immeasurable.

My life has changed in so many ways, but every decade it’s a different layer.

You know, it’s harder now than it was then.

And that’s the real mystery with this whole thing is that for some reason at this point

of my life, I yearn for her more and mourn for her more than when it happened.

We have so many reasons to stay hopeful that Dana’s case will get solved.

I mean, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office is reexamining evidence as I’m recording

this episode.

So listeners, if you think you know who Happy is, or if you know anything about what happened

to Dana Ram in December of 1986, do not let this case stand solved.

Maybe you know something that could break this case wide open.

It is never too late.

Call the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Homicide Unit at 510-667-3636.

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