It’s a terrifying find made by police officers in January 1971 in the desert of western Arizona. They find the body of a woman wrapped in a tied sack. She is estimated to be 35 to 40 years old, is around 1.63 meters tall, was still wearing her clothes but no jewelry.

But where the woman comes from and who the murderer is remains unclear for a long time – as does the question of who the victim actually is. The investigators are groping in the dark, even sending the fingerprints to the FBI. Laboratories that deal with dental surgery are also contacted – the victim shows traces of expensive work on the teeth, which are compared with thousands of patient files. A police officer draws a portrait of the victim, hotels, motels and businesses are checked – as well as missing persons reports from Arizona, California, Utah and Nevada. But all attempts to identify the victim have come to nothing.

But more than 50 years later, officials are now clarifying one of the questions: who is the victim. Last year, the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office contacted a company that deals with genealogical research. Investigators wanted to find out if it would be possible to use “advanced DNA testing and genome sequencing to determine the woman’s identity and the circumstances surrounding her death,” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook.

The sheriff’s office publicized his work via a crowdfunding page – and announced that $ 6,500 would be needed for a DNA test. The website is designed to help investigative authorities fund cases or collect DNA samples. The police contributed $1,000 themselves, and the other $5,500 was collected within a few days. Exactly 52 years after the body was discovered, the victim finally got a name. “The victim has been identified as Colleen Audrey Rice,” the sheriff’s office said in a post on Facebook. DNA comparison with a relative and contact with distant family members confirmed the identity.

Accordingly, Rice died shortly before her 40th birthday in the desert. The police also made other details public, such as the birthplace of Portsmouth, Ohio in the north-east of the USA – several thousand kilometers from where the body was found – and the victim’s marriage to William Davis at the age of 15. “She has become estranged from her family, so nothing is known about her family or how she actually came to Arizona,” the post reads. It is unclear whether she had children because there are no records of this. While the search for the identity is complete, the search for the killer will continue, police promised.

Quellen:¬†¬†Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, “Guardian”,