Cold case reopened after mushroom hunter finds human hair

Posted at 4:56 PM, May 5, 2023 and last updated 1:03 PM, June 14, 2023


RUCH, Ore. (Court TV) – Investigators in Oregon have reopened a 10-year-old cold case after a mushroom hunter found evidence near the victim’s home.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office announced it was reopening the investigation into the 2013 disappearance of Stephanie Anne Warner after a person out foraging for mushrooms found what is believed to be human hair and tissue. The potential evidence was found near Warner’s home.

Photo of Stephanie Anne Warner

Stephanie Anne Warner was last seen on July 4, 2013. (Jackson County Sheriff’s Office)

Warner was last seen on July 4, 2013, leaving the Fourth of July parade in Ashland, Oregon, at approximately 4:30 p.m. with her boyfriend, Lennie Ames. The couple left together in Warner’s green 2003 Nissan Xterra and were believed to be heading back to Warner’s home in Ruch. At the time, Warner was wearing jeans, black lace-up boots and a pink or beige top.

Detectives said that Ames and his son, Jared Fournier, are believed to have information about Warner’s disappearance but have been “uncooperative” with their investigation.

Warner’s body was never found, but investigators have said they believe she was the victim of homicide.

“I believe this case is solvable,” said Sgt. Jesse Ainsworth of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. “And that’s why we’re never going to give up until we find her. We want to get Stephanie home to her family and get justice for her.”

The potential hair and tissue samples were sent to the Oregon State Police Forensics Laboratory for positive identification. The sheriff’s office said that search and rescue personnel were dispatched to the area to search for more potential evidence.

Investigators said they are reviewing the entire case file, re-listening to interviews and doing a full examination of the evidence in the case.

“I believe there’s somebody out there in the community that knows something that can help us,” said Ainsworth. “We’re getting really close. We’ve been digging through everything.”