Woman Found in a Canvas Sack in 1971 ID'd Through Community-Funded DNA Testing

Fifty-two years after the woman's remains were found in an Arizona desert, the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office was able to figure out her name: Colleen Audrey Rice of Portsmouth, Ohio

Colleen Audrey Rice
Mohave County Sheriff's Office

Law enforcement in Arizona are finally able to identify a woman found dead in 1971 after community members rallied together to help fund crucial DNA testing.

The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office was notified on Jan. 23, 1971, of remains found in a desert area close to U.S. Highway 93 on Hackberry Road. The body was in a white cotton canvas sack with the words "Deer-Pak Ames Harris Neville Co." printed on it in green, authorities said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

Investigators at the time were not able to identify the woman. It wasn't until Monday — 52 years after her death — that the sheriff's office was able to figure out her name: Colleen Audrey Rice.

The sheriff’s office said that in October 2021, the agency’s special investigation unit worked with an artist to draw a sketch of what Rice may have looked like. They released the sketch to the public in hopes that someone would have information.

Last year, authorities started working with the forensic genealogy company, Othram Inc., "to determine if advanced DNA testing and Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing could help give insight into the identity of this woman and the circumstances surrounding her untimely death," the sheriff's office said.

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