Details of Disappearance Doris was last seen at approximately 7:00 p.m. on April 23, 1996 as she departed her Arlington County, Virginia residence. She was en route to pick up her child from her estranged husband Jay E. Lentz's home in Fort Washington, Maryland at the time. Jay's house was approximately 20 miles from Doris's residence.
Doris has never been seen again. Her dark teal 1994 Toyota Celica with the Virginia license plate number ZWR-9728 was discovered abandoned several days after her disappearance. Photos of the car are posted with this case summary.
The vehicle was located on Livingston Road Southeast in an apartment complex parking lot, which is known to be a high-crime area of Washington, D.C. The car was splattered with blood and Doris's keys, cash and credit cards were still inside it. Her purse was in full view in the car. There was no other sign of her at the scene.
Doris and Jay were involved in a bitter divorce in April 1996. She had filed several police reports against Jay prior to moving out of the couple's home in 1993. Doris stated that he abused and harassed her in the complaints.
A court hearing had been scheduled regarding the divorce on April 24, 1996, the day following Doris's disappearance. Doris had been awarded primary custody of their child, and Jay apparently owed her a substantial amount in back alimony payments.
Jay claimed that he never saw his estranged wife on the day she vanished. Investigators learned that Jay had sent their child to his mother's residence before Doris was scheduled to pick the child up from his house.
Authorities do not believe that Jay informed Doris where their child was located on the day she vanished and allowed her to drive to his Maryland home. Jay moved to Indiana with their daughter in October 1996, six months after Doris vanished.
Jay was arrested in connection with Doris's disappearance in May 2001 in Indiana. In August 2001, He was charged with her kidnapping and causing her death. Jay maintains his innocence in the case. He was convicted of the charge in June 2003 and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The trial judge took the unusual step of throwing out the jury's verdict; he acquitted Jay in July 2003.
The judge cited a lack of physical evidence linking Jay to Doris's presumed murder and questioned whether they had even seen each other the day she disappeared. The judge also claimed that even if she had been murdered there was no evidence to indicate that Doris was at any time held against her will, an essential element in a kidnapping case.
However, in September 2004, a court of appeals ordered a new trial for Jay, saying that the trial judge was wrong to overturn the verdict. He was convicted again of the same charges in March 2006.
Doris has never been located, but foul play is suspected due to the circumstances involved in her disappearance. She was employed as a receptionist for former Tennessee senator and United States ambassador to China, James Sasser, in 1996. Jay is a former naval intelligence officer.
- Arlington County Police Department
Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004. Last updated April 10, 2006; details of disappearance updated.