August 20, 2004
An unidentified woman shot in the head and left in the Scottsdale desert almost 20 years ago now has a face.
Police hope she soon will have a name, too.
A forensic artist with the Maricopa County Sheriff ’s Office has reconstructed the features of the woman whose scattered bones were found on March 2, 1985, by a group of university students on a field trip to what was then a desert area east of Scottsdale Road and south of Jomax Road, Scottsdale homicide detective John Kirkham said.
At the time, examiners thought her body had been there for about 1 1 /2 years.
Forensic anthropologists with the Maricopa County Forensic Science Center said the woman was of mixed race — white and black — about 25 to 30 years old and roughly 5 feet 6 inches tall.
The determinations were based on the scant evidence provided by her bones, about 70 percent of which were recovered, police said.
"There was some hair at the scene and there was some pieces of clothing. But that’s all it was, just pieces," Kirkham said.
Detectives initially tried to match the woman to missing persons reports
locally, statewide and nationally, Kirkham said.
"And none of them matched up," he said.
The woman is one of Scottsdale’s 16 open homicide "cold" cases, he said. "This is truly a cold case because we don’t even know who the victim is. . . . Maybe someone will remember this gal and come forward and give her a name. And the investigation can proceed from there."
Sheriff ’s detective Bob Powers, who has done about 50 skull reconstructions, said the primary challenge with the case was that he had few clues about the woman’s features other than the skull. "And if I remember correctly, there was no mandible," he said.
Still, he felt confident it’s a good resemblance. "The difficult part is getting the right person to see it," he said.
How to help
Anyone with information about the victim’s identity is asked to call the Scottsdale Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit at (480) 312-5000.