Murder remains unsolved after nine years
Nine years ago, the body of a young woman was found murdered along the Colorado River in the vicinity of Avenue 5E.
The case still remains unsolved.
"I was the first officer on the scene," said Capt. Eben Bratcher, of the Yuma County Sheriff's Office. "I remember it well. It is one of those cases that stick with you."
The young woman, who was approximately 16 years old, had been shot in the face with a shotgun at close range the night before her body was found on Oct. 9, and sheriff investigators have never stopped trying to solve the case.
She was 5 feet 5 inches, weighed 106 pounds and was Hispanic, American Indian or white. She had 17-inch, long curly brown hair, her eye color was unknown. She had a surgical scar on her right abdomen.
She also had a mole on her back and a partially finished "Angel Baby" tattoo on her right ankle. She was wearing a white cotton pullover shirt with two butterflies, green sweatpants and black high-lace-up shoes.
"The fact that no one has ever come forward to report her missing or identify her leads us to believe she may not be from the area," Bratcher said.
The young girl is buried in an indigent grave here in Yuma County, without a name on the headstone.
Bratcher said the sheriff's office has reached out to the media, both locally and nationally, several times over the years to try to identify her.
"We are frustrated with our inability to positively identify her," Bratcher said. "We have never received a lead that has paid off."
He added that in addition to listing the young woman with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the sheriff's office has submitted DNA evidence to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab.
"We have analyzed all the evidence in the case and haven't got any hits," Bratcher said. "We have chased down every tip we have ever received in the case and hit a dead end every time."
Bratcher added that identifying the young girl could provide new information that could lead to solving the case.
"If we know she is, we can link that back to other people she associated with and that could open up new leads in the case. Maybe someone will come forward."
Yuma blogger Marsha Gorley, who calls herself a "websleuth" for the Web site Justicequest.net, said she became interested in the case a few months ago while working on other cases involving missing unidentified women with other members of the Web Site.
"There is a huge network of people out there on the Internet trying to help identify these women," said Gorley, who was working as a patrol secretary with the Yuma Police Department the year the murder occurred. "We don't want to solve the murder, we just want to give her a name. Solving the murder is their job."
Gorley said she has filed a request with the sheriff's office through the Freedom of Information Act to get a copy of the coroner's report and pictures of the unfinished tattoo to post online in hopes someone may recognize it.
"By not doing anything, we will never find out who she is," Gorley said. "We have people from all over the world who read the Web site."
So far Gorley has not heard back from the sheriff's office, but had spoken to a couple of YCSO officials previously who denied her initial requests.
Bratcher said anyone with any information regarding the case can call the Yuma County Sheriff's Office at 783-4427.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854