Christine Thornton’s remains were discovered by a local rancher off Interstate 80 near Granger, WY on April 6, 1982. Thornton, 28, was from San Antonio, Texas, and had gone missing in June 1977 after breaking up with her boyfriend while they were on their way to Montana to pan for gold. Thornton was six months pregnant at the time. However, it took until 2015 for Thornton’s remains to be identified. This only happened after investigators found photographs of Thornton taken by convicted serial killer Rodney Alcala in the area near where her body was found. Thornton’s sister saw one of the pictures and recognized her, which along with DNA tests, led to the identification of her remains.
In 2010, Alcala was convicted of murdering five people in Southern California in the 1970s. He later pleaded guilty to killing two women in New York City. Known as the “Dating Game Killer” because of his appearance on that game show in 1978, Alcala was sentenced to death for the five murders in California and was on death row when Thornton’s remains were identified. In 2016, he was charged with murdering her but was reportedly too sick to travel to Wyoming for a trial. Alcala died of natural causes in 2021, which left Thornton’s case unresolved.