It is a mystery of more than half a century which has just found its resolution. On January 24, 2023, police in Mojave County, United States, announced that they had identified the remains of Colleen Audrey Rice, an American found dead in January 1971 in Arizona, thanks to crowdfunding. “We gave her a name, showed her that she was a person and that she mattered,” Lori Miller, who has been in charge of the investigation since 2001, told CBS News. Born in Portsmouth, Ohio in March 1931, Colleen Audrey Rice was 39 at the time of her death.

The body of the young woman was discovered on January 23, 1971 in an Arizona desert. At the time, the police tried to identify him using his fingerprints and dental prints, but nothing came of it. A drawing of the victim, whose age experts estimated between 35 and 40, had also been released, but no one had come to claim her. Finally, the case had ended up being forgotten.

Crowdfunding for the truth

In 1999, the Mojave County Sheriff created a unit to investigate unsolved cases using new technologies. This is how the file of the unknown arrived on the desk of Lori Miller. At first, the investigator came up against many false leads. But in October 2022, a laboratory specializing in forensic genealogy offered to help him solve his cold cases. The sheriff’s office then decided to seek financial assistance from county residents through a crowdfunding campaign. “We’re a big county with a small population and a small budget,” says Miller.

Thanks to $6,500 from generous donors, the lab managed to identify the body of Colleen Audrey Rice. According to the investigation report, the almost 40-year-old had married a certain William Davis in 1946. However, she had cut ties with her family, which partly explains why no one reported her disappearance. More than 50 years later, Lori Miller hopes that this discovery can relaunch the investigation. “We are still looking for the responsible people,” she says.

Dead for 52 years, she is identified thanks to a moving decision


Maria T.
Maria T.

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