Apache Junction Police Department investigators are hopeful that any thread of evidence will help identify and solve a cold case involving the death of the city's only "Jane Doe," whose remains were found in the desert nearly 17 years ago.
She was wearing a Team Gear soccer T-shirt with soccer balls imprinted on the front and back of it, a pair of Levi's denim cut-off shorts and a gold-colored ring on her left ring finger when her badly decomposed remains were found Aug. 6, 1992, by a man walking his dog south of the U.S. 60 and west of Idaho Road.
|Forensic artist's reconstruction of the woman found|
The young woman, who is described as Hispanic and eastern Asian, was about 16 to 18 years old and 4 feet 11 inches to 5 feet 1 inch tall with coarse brown hair in a ponytail and poorly maintained teeth that protruded from her mouth. She also had a Phoenix Transit System student token in her pocket with about 26 cents in change, according to Stephanie Bourgeois, a crime scene technician for the Apache Junction Police Department.
The woman's fingerprints have been submitted to the National Crime Information Center's database and strands of her hair were submitted to the Arizona Department of Public Safety for DNA testing in January, where it awaits processing.
"Her teeth are the most prominent part about her," Bourgeois said. "She has very poor teeth. We've had some possible matches through partial fingerprints in Pittsburgh and through dental records in California, but everything has come back negative so far."
The Pima County Medical Examiner's Office, which performed the autopsies for Pinal County at the time, determined the remains had been at the location where they were found for three to five weeks, but was unable to determine the cause of her death, police said.
However, through technology advancements and expanded online databases of missing persons, the chances of solving the case remain hopeful to authorities, possibly through a hit on a DNA match that could be discovered on items in line to be run through the DPS crime lab.
Bourgeois, who has been with the department since 2007, said she became interested in the case about a year ago when she attended an FBI's Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP) conference near the Grand Canyon. VICAP is a program that combines investigative and operational support functions, as well as research and training so agencies can better investigate unusual crimes or incidents.
Bourgeois said having the woman's fingerprints in the National Crime Information Center's system is a good thing. But once the DNA is analyzed on the hair and clothing and submitted to DPS, that could provide a more specific match or determine whether traces of someone else's DNA was left on the woman.
"We're trying all possibilities," Bourgeois said. "I'm hopeful. I'm hopeful we'll find out who she is."
On top of not having a cause of death, the department has not received any tips or leads on the case in many years, said Capt. Tom Kelly of the Apache Junction Police Department.
"I'm sure there's a family, a brother or a mom who would like to see some closure in this," Kelly said. "Solving these kinds of things are always nice because it brings closure to the family. When this happened, some of the forensic techniques and technologies weren't available that are now. We'd like to know if there's somebody who saw something, heard something or bragged about doing something bad to this girl and has remorse over it. We hope by shaking the tree again, something will fall."
If anyone has any information on this case, they are asked to call Apache Junction police at (480) 982-8260 and ask for Capt. Tom Kelly or crime scene technician Stepanie Bourgeois.