LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — For more than half a century, she was nameless. Her body was discovered in a canvas sack dumped in a desert area a few miles east of U.S. Highway 93, in Mohave County, Arizona.
The date was January 23, 1971.
Authorities described her as “5 feet 4 inches tall, weighing approximately 125 to 140 pounds, with brown curly hair.” There were even details of all of her clothing right down to her white bobby sox.
But they could never give her an identity, until now.
Exactly 52 years later to the day, the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office would learn she was Colleen Audrey Rice.
How she ended up dead in a canvas bag remains unsolved, but her identity was revealed through DNA testing.
According to the sheriff’s office, in 2022, investigators partnered with Othram Inc., a company that has solved numerous other missing identity cases. The sheriff’s office committed $1,000, and Ortham set up a page for donations, which raised the remaining $6,500 from the community to do the DNA testing and forensic-grade genome sequencing.
DNA testing uncovered a relative and it was learned Colleen was born on March 17, 1931, in Portsmouth, Ohio to James C. Rice and Flossie Truitt. Colleen Rice married William Davis in 1946 in Ohio but apparently became estranged from her family and somehow ended up in Arizona.
Investigators, who now knew where Rice was from, were able to obtain her high school photo to see her face for the first time for comparison against the artist-drawn sketch of how she is believed to have looked around the time of her death.
Her story isn’t over — investigators now want to find who is responsible for Colleen Rice’s death.
“The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office continues to seek the public’s assistance with providing any information they may have on the later years in the victim’s life,” a Facebook post read.
Mohave County is about 130 miles southeast of Las Vegas.
Anyone with information on Rice or the homicide is urged is encouraged to contact the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office at (928) 753-0753 ext. 4408 or call toll-free 1-800-522-4312 and reference DR# 71-0383.