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Thread: Identified as Melody Harrison (15)-Familial DNA Shows UID Teenage Girl Found In Apache Junction, AZ In 1992 Had Links to Pittsylvania County, VA Families

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    Senior Member blighted star's Avatar
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    Identified as Melody Harrison (15)-Familial DNA Shows UID Teenage Girl Found In Apache Junction, AZ In 1992 Had Links to Pittsylvania County, VA Families

    https://www.chathamstartribune.com/n...b03825198.html



    Facial approximation made by the FBI in 2012 from skull photographs and dental radiographs.

    APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. and CHATHAM, Va. ? On Aug. 6, 1992, the body of an unidentified teenage girl was located in the Sonoran Desert 30 miles east of Phoenix in Apache Junction, Arizona. Decades later, forensic investigators would tie this girl, whose identity remains unknown to this day, to Pittsylvania County.

    The unidentified female will be referred to in this story as Jane Doe.

    Stephanie Bourgeois, a crime scene technician for the Apache Junction Police Department, told the Star-Tribune that Jane's genealogy suggests that she has relatives who live or lived in Virginia, "especially Pittsylvania and Halifax Counties."

    A body found



    Shirt found on Jane Doe's body.


    Pants found on Jane Doe's body.

    On that scorching summer day in 1992, a local resident was walking his dog through the desert south of U.S. Highway 60 and west of Idaho Road in Apache Junction when he stumbled across Jane's body. Old Farmer's Almanac harks 104-degree heat that day, and Jane had already been deceased for three to five weeks. Her remains were described as "unrecognizable" and "mummified."

    "That area at the time was just open desert," Bourgeois said. "That highway, the U.S. 60, goes past this desert area so big trucks can get off. Back then in 1992, the highway didn?t come out there. It was a very, very rural desert area. Just desert for miles."

    The man who reported Jane's body to police was a seasonal resident getting an early start on his annual southerly migration.

    "We have a lot of snowbirds that come to the desert and walk around," Bourgeois said. "The gentleman that located her remains was interviewed and determined not to be a suspect."

    Her age at death is estimated to be around 16 years old. She was 5-foot-1 with brown hair held in a ponytail by an elastic band. She was discovered wearing blue cut-off denim pants and a white T-shirt with soccer balls on the front and back. Her pants, bra and underwear, although inside-out, were fastened and in place.

    She was also found wearing a yellow metal ring with a nugget design on her left ring finger.

    Ties to Pittsylvania County

    In 2018, Apache Junction Police Department solicited the help of DNA Doe Project, a California not-for-profit corporation that has made identifications in more than 50 cases nationwide involving unidentified bodies.

    Franchesca Werden, a representative of the organization, told the Star-Tribune that seven surnames tie Jane to Southside Virginia.

    "The detective that was on the case basically said, 'We?ve had this case since 1992 and we haven?t been able to identify her,'" Werden said.

    Jane was 50 percent Hispanic, 25 percent Black and 25 percent White. Her paternal Black side is what ties her to Pittsylvania County.

    "I don?t specialize in the genealogy of Virginia and Maryland, but I know that people with roots in those areas tend to go really far back," Werden said. "A lot of families have been in the area since Virginia was a colony, or they?ve traced their genealogy to the 1700s."

    Werden identified the names Chandler, Dixon, Graves, Lovelace and Patrick in Jane's family tree as those suggesting a tie to her Black family in Southern Virginia.

    A mystery relative

    Authorities to date have made contact with one definite blood relative of Jane's and identified another who, if he is still alive, is 68 years old. Bourgeois said the search for this man is ongoing in Southern Virginia as well as Louisiana, Mexico and Germany.

    "On Jane's paternal side, we have made contact with the first or second cousin," Bourgeois said. "We found out that Jane is related on that person's paternal side. That person's father has about ten children, two of which are half-siblings, and Jane is related to those half-siblings. This is where we're at a standstill."


    Further facial approximation made by the FBI in 2012 from skull photographs and dental radiographs.

    Authorities obtained the birth certificate of one half-sibling: Bernhard Neumann. He was born in 1953 in Darmstadt-Eberstadt, Germany.

    Jane's cousin told Bourgeois that her father was in the military had Bernhard while stationed in Germany.

    "We are trying to locate Bernhard," Bourgeois said. "His mother's name is Else Neumann, but she is probably deceased. I don't know if she stayed in Germany or came over to the U.S. He may have even been adopted out and his name is not Bernhard anymore."

    Neumann is not a suspect, but rather a person Apache Junction Police need to identify if they have any hope of one day identifying Jane.

    "If anyone in Pittsylvania County knows of a Bernhard Neumann, that's the only thing we have to go on," Bourgeois said. "That's where we're stuck."

    Waiting for answers

    Werden said Southside Virginia residents can help the case by putting their own family tree or at-home DNA test results online if they feel comfortable doing so, especially if that tree contains one of the seven surnames tying Jane to Pittsylvania County.

    "Most families of a Doe have been waiting decades for answers," Werden said. "It is a very bittersweet thing when identifications are made."

    Although almost nothing is known about this young woman who would now be in her late 40s, one piece of evidence dating back to 1992 provides a tiny window into her teenage life.

    In her pocket, along with a corroded quarter and penny, contained a Phoenix Transit System token inscribed with the words, "Valid for student fare."

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    Scoopski Potatoes Nic B's Avatar
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    Her clothes are pretty clean considering she had been there so long....


    Quote Originally Posted by marakisses View Post
    yes i said i will leave it under you storage he said cuddle with me i said shut up it over??? what am i doing wrong??
    Quote Originally Posted by curiouscat View Post
    Happy Birthday! I hid a dead body in your backyard to celebrate. Good luck finding it under the cement. You can only use a stick to look for it.

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    What do you care? Boston Babe 73's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nic B View Post
    Her clothes are pretty clean considering she had been there so long....
    Smart observation! You're right. Would they have washed them? You would think it would be evidence unless they determined that she died of natural causes. Strange.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nic B View Post
    That is too pretty to be shoved up an ass.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nic B View Post
    You can take those Fleets and shove them up your ass



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    Scoopski Potatoes Nic B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boston Babe 73 View Post
    Smart observation! You're right. Would they have washed them? You would think it would be evidence unless they determined that she died of natural causes. Strange.
    That was my thought, surely they didn't wash them since there could be evidence/dna???


    Quote Originally Posted by marakisses View Post
    yes i said i will leave it under you storage he said cuddle with me i said shut up it over??? what am i doing wrong??
    Quote Originally Posted by curiouscat View Post
    Happy Birthday! I hid a dead body in your backyard to celebrate. Good luck finding it under the cement. You can only use a stick to look for it.

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    Senior Member KimTisha's Avatar
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    Also, do I understand correctly that all of her clothes were found on her, but they were inside out and fastened? I find that really odd.

    Hard to believe these are the actual garments found on her body. She putrified and then mummified - these clothes would be completely saturated with bodily fluids, wouldn't they? Maybe they HAD to clean the clothes to figure out what was printed on the shirt in hopes of identifying her. I would imagine when the body gets to that point of decomposition, it would be almost impossible to identify and obtain contact evidence anyway.
    You are talking to a woman who has laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom and chuckled at catastrophe.
    ...Collector of Chairs. Reader of Books. Hater of Nutmeg...

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    Moderator Bewitchingstorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raisedbywolves View Post
    https://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/un...-doe-cold-case

    Unsolved: DNA match reveals major development in decades-old Jane Doe cold case
    At least they have a start now in trying to figure out who she was.

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    Senior Member KimTisha's Avatar
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    They're getting cl-o-o-o-ser. They have identified a direct relative on the paternal side, a full uncle. His brother is AJ Jane Doe's father. Only the Uncle is adopted himself and never knew his birth parents and never knew he had a brother. They are frustratingly close.

    From May 2022:

    You are talking to a woman who has laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom and chuckled at catastrophe.
    ...Collector of Chairs. Reader of Books. Hater of Nutmeg...

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    Moderator Bewitchingstorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KimTisha View Post
    They're getting cl-o-o-o-ser. They have identified a direct relative on the paternal side, a full uncle. His brother is AJ Jane Doe's father. Only the Uncle is adopted himself and never knew his birth parents and never knew he had a brother. They are frustratingly close.

    From May 2022:

    Wow!

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    Moderator raisedbywolves's Avatar
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    https://kjzz.org/content/1863308/apa...-year-old-girl

    'Apache Junction Jane Doe' remains identified as missing 15-year-old girl

    Police in Arizona have determined that decomposed remains found in August 1992 in a remote desert area outside Phoenix were those of a missing 15-year-old, Melody Harrison.

    The Apache Junction Police Department announced Thursday that advancements in DNA testing helped them make the discovery 31 years after Harrison's disappearance in June 1992.
    In 1996, four years after she was reported missing by her relatives, the family removed her from the missing person?s database, believing that she was alive but ?did not want to go home? after various reports of possible sightings of the teenager, authorities said.
    https://www.azfamily.com/2023/11/18/...iller-victims/
    Apache Junction Jane Doe similar to 1992 serial killer victims

    Apache Junction police say they are looking at all possible leads, including the possibility a 15-year-old girl, whose body was found in the desert, was the victim of a serial killer.

    Police and the DNA Doe Project used genetic genealogy to identify the teenager as Melody Harrison, whose family reported her missing in June of 1992. Her body was discovered in the desert south of the US 60, near Idaho and Baseline, in August of 1992. It took three decades to identify her. The DNA Doe Project used databases from GEDMatch Pro and FamilyTreeDNA.com in its analysis.

    During the time of Harrison?s disappearance, two serial killers were actively abducting and murdering young women in the Phoenix area.

    The first, Scott Lehr, was convicted of murdering three women whose ages ranged from 19 to 40 years old. Lehr was also charged with several rapes and brutal attacks on women. He was known as the Babyseat Rapist because surviving victims said he had a baby seat in his vehicle. That crime spree occurred in 1991 and 1992.

    Bryan Patrick Miller was convicted earlier this year in the murders of Angela Brosso, who was 23, and Melanie Bernas, who was 15. Brosso was murdered in November of 1992. Bernas was murdered in September of 1993.

    But Miller is also a suspect or investigative lead in the disappearance of Brandy Myers, who was 13 when she vanished in May of 1992, and in the murder of Shannon Aumock, a 16-year-old, whose body was found in May of 1992.

    Miller is considered a person of interest in the murder of Adrienne Salinas, who disappeared in Tempe in 2013 and whose body was discovered later that year in Apache Junction.
    https://www.abc15.com/news/local-new...after-30-years

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    Moderator Bewitchingstorm's Avatar
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    It is wonderful she finally gets her identity back.

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    Senior Member kevansvault's Avatar
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    This is why science is important, kids.

    This. Is. Why.

    This makes me both very happy and sad for her family. Sure, they get closure, but the finality of her death and the events that preceded it would eat at me forever.

    And ya'll know I'm all for making people pay for their crimes. I hope that one day her killer suffers a fate far worse than death, whatever that may be.
    Don't like what I have to say? I respect that. Go fuck yourself.

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    Moderator Bewitchingstorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevansvault View Post
    This is why science is important, kids.

    This. Is. Why.

    This makes me both very happy and sad for her family. Sure, they get closure, but the finality of her death and the events that preceded it would eat at me forever.

    And ya'll know I'm all for making people pay for their crimes. I hope that one day her killer suffers a fate far worse than death, whatever that may be.
    I agree. I would think it is the not knowing that would drive me crazy. Then knowing what happened would be even more heartbreaking. At least they have a little bit of closure, albeit sad closure.

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