Months of decomposition stripped away the body’s identity, but now facial reconstruction may help investigators put a name to the woman and possibly tie a killer to her murder.
The Gila County Sheriff’s Office released photographs of Jane Doe this week, a young woman found murdered and tossed in the woods off the Young Road in July. The clay reconstruction of the woman’s face sheds new light on one of the department’s few cold cases.
Since a camper discovered the body nearly eight months ago several miles off Highway 260, Gila County Sheriff’s Det. George Ratliff said he has zero clues to go on.
Who the woman was, who killed her and why remain huge questions in the case.
Ratliff hopes with the photo of the woman, someone will recognize her and cast new clues on the case.
“There is nothing we can do until we find out who she is,” he said.
“Once we find that out, we can start checking back to who she was and who she hung out with and we may get some leads.”
Due to blunt force trauma to the skull and that the woman was found with no clothes or identification, investigators believe the woman was killed off site and her body tossed into the woods where no one would find it.
It wasn’t until the morning of July 22 when a camper running his dog through the woods came upon the body.
Half of the body, including a set of teeth, long, brown hair and bright blue nails had survived six months of decomposition.
Detectives also found another piece of evidence nearby, a size 5 stainless steel ring with a square, clear stone.
“That is all we know as well as that the woman met with foul play,” Ratliff said.
The ethnicity of the woman is unclear, but she is believed to have been between 18 and 24 years old, 5’6” to 5’7” and weighing 110 to 120 pounds.
Since the Roundup reported a description of the woman in October, several people from around the country have called Ratliff’s office, but none have panned out.
Missing persons reports, dental records and the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) turned up no matches.
Ratliff said he keeps trying, checking the CODIS bank once a month.
This is the first time Ratliff can remember the sheriff’s office in Payson using the FBI for facial reconstruction.
The department has few cold cases and even fewer where the identity of the victim is unknown.
Three cases Ratliff is still trailing include the murder of Ronald Biancahi, 54, who was killed by a gunshot to the heart in September of 1999. His body was found in the woods north of Tonto Village off Forest Road 29.
Another case involves a body dumped off the side of Highway 188 in late 1999 and another man found murdered in the late 1970s.
Anyone with information on the woman can call Ratliff at (928) 474-2208.