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Investigators identify woman whose body was found in canvas sack in 1971

MOHAVE COUNTY, Ariz. (TCD) — Investigators have positively identified the remains of a woman whose body was found inside a canvas sack in the desert over 50 years ago.

According to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, in October 2021, the Special Investigation Unit asked for help in identifying a female homicide victim from 1971. She was reportedly located Jan. 23, 1971, in the desert off a dirt road about 2 miles east of Highway 93. The statement said the woman was placed inside a canvas sack, which had been tied with white cotton rope.

The bag was reportedly “a white cotton, loosely woven sack, with the words ‘Deer-Pak Ames Harris Neville Co.,’ printed in green.”

The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office said the woman was between 35 and 40 years old, 5-foot-4, 125 to 140 pounds, and had curly brown hair. She reportedly wore a colorful long-sleeve shirt, burnt orange pants, and black leather boots.

The Special Investigations Unit worked with the Museum of Northern Arizona to create a rendering of what the woman might have looked like based on her skull features.

In 2022, the Special Investigations Unit reportedly contacted Othram Inc. and worked with them to see if DNA testing and genome sequencing could help shed light on the woman’s identity and her case. The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office put up $1,000 to cover the cost and crowdsourced the remaining $6,500 needed for the testing.

Othram reportedly raised the funds in five days and commenced their extensive processes for identifying victims at the end of 2022.

According to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, the woman was identified Jan. 23 as Colleen Audrey Rice. She was reportedly born March 17, 1931, in Portsmouth, Ohio, and attended Portsmouth High School. In 1946, she wed William Davis. A DNA test with a family member reportedly confirmed her identity.

Rice was reportedly “estranged from her family, so little is known of her life or how she came to Arizona.”

It was not immediately known if she had children.

The Sheriff’s Office said the investigation remains ongoing for the person or persons responsible for Rice’s death.


SIU Cold Case Investigation – Mohave County Sheriff’s OfficeMohave County Sheriff’s Office and Othram Team to Identify 1971 Jane Doe – Othram Inc.

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