Murdered Woman Identified 52 Years Later After Sheriff's Office Crowdfunds for DNA Test

Since 1971, she was known as Jane Doe after she was found inside a canvas sack near a dirt road in the Arizona desert

colleen rice
Photo: Mohave County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

For decades, investigators wondered about the identity of a woman whose body was discovered inside a canvas sack in the Arizona desert. Three days ago, they finally got an answer.

The Special Investigation Unit at the Mohave County Sheriff's Office used modern technology to identify distant relatives of Colleen Rice, a 40-year-old woman who grew up in Portsmouth, Ohio, officials stated on its Facebook page.

And while that's a huge answer for a 52-year-old investigation, there are still many more questions to solve. Rice's body was discovered on Jan. 23, 1971, near a dirt road about 2 miles east of U.S. Highway 93. Her body was inside a sack that was tied at the top with white cotton rope, officials said.

She was about 5'4" and weighed about 130 lbs. She was dressed in a size 14 multicolored long sleeve blouse, a black, long sleeve cardigan sweater, and burnt orange stretch pants with a tab inside that read: Symphony, it's what's happening.

She wore a pair of black leather, ankle high boots and bobby socks. She had no jewelry on her body.

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For decades, this was everything officials knew about the woman formerly known as Jane Doe.

In 2022, the sheriff's office partnered with Othram Inc. in order to test her DNA. The department paid $1000 and asked the public to fund the remaining $6,500.

"The hope was that the community would open its heart and help to finally give her a name," the department stated in its release. The case was funded in five days.

On Jan. 23, after 52 years of being unknown, she was given a name and some details about her life were revealed. Rice was born on March 17, 1931. She was married to William Davis in Ohio. It's unknown whether she had any children, but officials learned she was estranged from her family.

"The investigation is ongoing into the suspect and/or suspects responsible for her death," officials stated. "The MCSO continues to seek the public's assistance with providing any information they may have on the later years of the victim's life."

Anyone with information should call Mohave County Sheriff's Office SIU at 928-753-0753 ext. 4408 or call the toll free number at 1-800-522-4312 and reference DR# 71-0383.

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