Arizona cold case victim from 1971 identified with forensic genealogy

Jan 25, 2023, 4:25 AM

Authorities provided a high school photo of Colleen Audrey Rice, along with an artist's age renditi...

Authorities provided a high school photo of Colleen Audrey Rice, along with an artist's age rendition sketch.(Mohave County Sheriff's Office Special investigation Unit Photo)

(Mohave County Sheriff's Office Special investigation Unit Photo)

PHOENIX — A woman from a decadeslong cold case in Arizona has finally been identified, Mohave County authorities said Tuesday.

Colleen Audrey Rice was identified through forensic genetic genealogy and with assistance from Othram Inc., the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigation Unit said in a press release.

Rice was found about 26 miles east of Kingman on Jan. 23, 1971, in a canvas sack that had been tied with a white cotton rope in a desert area near a dirt road, the release said.

Rice was estimated to be between 35-40 years old, 5-foot-4, approximately 125-140 pounds and with curly brown hair. She was last wearing a size 14 multi-colored long-sleeve blouse, a black long-sleeve cardigan sweater and burnt-orange pants in size 12.

Testing began in late 2022, and she was identified on Monday, 52 years after she was found. The SIU searched through her family tree and contacted distant family relatives, confirming it was Rice after DNA testing of a relative.

Investigators said Rice was estranged from her family and that little is known about how she came to be in Arizona or if she had children. She was born on March 17, 1931 in Porstmouth, Ohio, to James C. Rice and Flossie Truitt. Rice also married William Davis in 1946 in Ohio.

An investigation is ongoing into the suspect(s) responsible for her death.

Anyone with information regarding Rice or the incident is asked to call the Mohave Country Sheriff’s Office SIU at 928-753-0753 ext. 4408 or the toll free number at 1-800-522-43122 and reference DR#71-0383.

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Arizona cold case victim from 1971 identified with forensic genealogy