Woman Murdered in Arizona 52 Years Ago Identified When Sheriff's Office Crowdfunds for DNA Test
The Special Investigation Unit at the Mohave County Sheriff's Office revealed recently that they used modern technology to identify distant relatives of Colleen Rice, a 40-year-old woman who grew up in Portsmouth, Ohio.
A Jane Doe in Arizona has finally been identified 52 years after her murder thanks to a sheriff’s office crowdfunding for a DNA test, according to reports.
The Special Investigation Unit at the Mohave County Sheriff's Office revealed recently that they used modern technology to identify distant relatives of Colleen Rice, a 40-year-old woman who grew up in Portsmouth, Ohio, and had been identified only as Jane Doe since 1971 when her remains were found inside a canvas sack in the Arizona desert, officials said on their Facebook page.
The victim’s 5’4” body was discovered on Jan. 23, 1971, near a dirt road about 2 miles east of U.S. Highway 93, according to People.
Her body was inside a sack that was tied at the top with white cotton rope, officials said.
Over the years, the sheriff’s office had reached out to an artist from the Museum of Northern Arizona who made a sketch of what the victim might have looked like based on the features of her skull, authorities said.
The public was then requested to contact the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office SIU Division if they recognized the person in the sketch or photo with possible identity of this woman, or the incident.
While nothing was known about the Jane Doe for decades, in 2022, the sheriff’s office asked the public to help them crowdfund a DNA test to figure out who the victim was, according to People.
After the sheriff’s office put up $1,000 from their budget and successfully crowdfunded in just five days the rest of the $6,500 needed to conduct such a test, they teamed up with Othram Inc. in order to test her DNA, People reported.
"The hope was that the community would open its heart and help to finally give her a name," the department stated in a statement on their Facebook page.
“On January 23, 2023, the victim found her voice. Through the use of Forensic Genetic Genealogy, the victim has been identified as Colleen Audrey Rice. DNA testing of a relative confirmed this after countless hours of investigation into her family tree and contact with distant family relatives,” the sheriff’s office added.
While Rice was married in Ohio before being found in Arizona, police said that “she was estranged from her family, so little is known of her life or how she came to be in Arizona.”
It is unknown if she had children as no records could be found.
The investigation is ongoing into the suspect and/or suspects responsible for her death.
Authorities continue to seek the public’s assistance with providing any information they may have on the later years of the victim’s life.
Anyone who has information regarding Colleen Audrey Rice or the incident is encouraged to contact the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office SIU at 928-753-0753 ext. 4408 or call the toll free number at 1-800-522-4312 and reference DR# 71-0383.
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