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Victim in 1971 cold case identified with DNA, Mohave County Sheriff’s Office says

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – Years after being discovered inside a sack in the desert, the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigation Unit have identified the body of a woman they believe was murdered.

On Jan. 23, 1971 the victim was located in the desert 2 miles east of Highway 93 on Hackberry Road.

She was found inside a canvas sack that had been tied closed. The SIU team reached out to an artist from the Museum of Northern Arizona who made a sketch of what the victim might have looked like based on the features of her skull. The public was requested to contact the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office SIU Division if they recognized the person in the sketch or photo.

In 2022, MCSO Cold Case investigators partnered with Texas-based Othram Inc. to determine if DNA testing and Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing could help identify Colleen Audrey Rice after MCSO again asked the public for help on the case.

Community funding online gathered enough support in only five days. DNA testing of a relative confirmed the results after an investigation into her family tree.

Rice was born March 17, 1931 in Portsmouth, OH, the daughter of James Rice and Flossie Truitt.

Rice attended Portsmouth High School and married William Davis in 1946. She was estranged from her family, and little is known of her life or how she came to Arizona. It is not known if she had children.

The investigation is ongoing into the person(s) responsible for her death. 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 who had information regarding Colleen Rice or the incident is asked to contact the sheriff’s office SIU at 928-753-0753 ext. 4408 or call toll free at 1-800-522-4312 and reference DR# 71-0383

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