Questions about the identity and circumstances surrounding the decomposed body of a woman found east of Payson six months ago remain unanswered.
Investigators have zero clues as to how the woman’s body ended up several feet off Young road or why.
The body was found unclothed with all traces of an identity stripped away.
It was a mid July morning when a camper and his dog stumbled upon the body in a small thicket of saplings.
The dog had persistently barked at its owner for two days to walk to the site where the body lay.
The man, who hadn’t suspected what he would find, had ignored his dog’s request. On the morning of July 22, the man conceded and let the dog lead him. What he found was a horrible sight.
Gila County Sheriff’s Det. George Ratliff believes the young woman was killed violently, due to blunt force trauma to the skull, and her body dumped two-and-a-half miles off Highway 260.
Little was done to conceal the body although no one spotted it for at least three months.
Half of the body survived months of decomposition, with the skull and bones intact and the teeth, nails and hair offering a few clues to the woman’s appearance.
Ratliff said the woman was of white or Hispanic decent with long, dark hair and a thin build. She wore blue nail polish and an inexpensive ring.
It is now up to the FBI crime lab to piece together what the woman looked like using facial reconstruction.
Results could take months, but Ratliff hopes once he gets a picture of what the woman possibly looked like, the case will open up.
Missing person reports, dental records and the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) have turned up no matches.
At one time, Ratliff thought the woman might match a missing persons report, but it fell through.
“We have nothing to go on,” he said, “and the animals in the woods are not talking.”
In a criminal investigation, knowing the victim’s identity is crucial. Without an ID, Ratliff has few avenues to pursue.
He continues to examine missing persons reports until he receives results back from the FBI.
With a sculpture of the woman’s face “hopefully we can find out something,” he said.