After a short hiatus, Murders and Coffee is back in business with a case that has remained unsolved for the last 60 years, leaving many puzzled, as to who possibly could have hurt this little girl.
On July 31st, 1960, a schoolteacher, named Russell Allen, was strolling the Sand Wash Creek Bed in Congress, Arizona of Yavapai County, in search of rocks to decorate for his garden when he came across a partially buried body of child.
Investigators immediately on the scene noted 2 disturbances in the soil next to the burial site, prompting them to assume that the person or persons responsible, had made 2 separate attempts to bury the body, but were unsure why. Investigators also noted the child’s fingernails and toenails appeared to be painted bright red. The unidentified child was clothed in white shorts and a checkered blouse and a pair of adult rubber thong sandals (that had been cut to fit the child’s feet.) They also discovered a bloodstained pocketknife next to the body, but were unable to determine how and if the knife was connected to the crime.
After the initial discovery of the unidentified child, an autopsy was done by a Forensic Pathologist and revealed the body was that of a girl, possibly between the age of 5 and 7 years old (later investigations would determine the girl could have been as old as 9, and as young as 2. The autopsy also revealed that the girl had been deceased 1 to 2 weeks prior to the discovery of her body. Her hair was brown (possibly the result of being dyed), and she had a full set of teeth described as being in good condition.
Due to the horrific decomposition of the girl’s body, medical examiners were unable to determine an actual cause of death or create an accurate drawing of the girl’s facial features. Thus making identifying her nearly impossible. Ultimately, examiners determined her death was the result of a homicide.
Investigators worked tirelessly with the help of the local media, citizens, and later even the FBI to determine the identity of the young girl. Law enforcement officials traveled hundreds of miles via air and land to try and determine her identity. Individuals who had previously been convicted of children’s crimes were relentlessly interrogated and eventually were discounted as suspects. The Sheriffs Office in Yavapai County would receive letters and telephone calls with information regarding the unidentified child, but they were never able to make any connections to any missing person’s case.
In August 1960, investigators began to explore the idea that the unidentified girl was 4 year old Sharon Lee Gallegos, a girl who went missing just 10 days before in New Mexico. The only inconsistency was the fact Sharon Lee Gallegos’s clothing at the time she went missing was different than the clothes found on the unidentified girl’s body. Regardless of this police couldn’t rule her out as a possible identification. Later efforts at identifying the body would determine that the unidentified girl was possibly older than Gallegos.
For a brief period, Police investigated a family from New Mexico that was known to have been hiking in the area of July 1960, Lester Davidson and 2 of his children. They determined there was likely no connection to the unidentified girl or even Sharon Lee Gallegos.
By March of 1961, Investigators began to focus in on the possibility that the unidentified girl could be a Debbie Dudley, a 4 year old missing from Virginia. On February 9th, 1961, investigators discovered the body of Debbie Dudley’s 7 year old sibling, Carol Ann. Carol Ann was found wrapped in a blanket after having died from malnutrition and severe neglect inflicted by her parents. The investigators were unable to locate Carol Ann’s other siblings, leading them to possibly believe their unidentified girl was Debbie Dudley. Debbie’s remains would later be found in West Virginia, and she would later be laid to rest next to her sister. Their parents would later be charged with their murders.
Before a funeral was conducted for the unidentified girl, the people of Yavapai County dubbed her “Little Miss Nobody.” On August 10th, 1960 with over 70 mourners in attendance, a placard was placed on the beautiful child’s casket with an inscription that read “Gods little child, date of birth unknown, date of death unknown.” Her headstone would read “Blessed are the Pure in Heart.”
A eulogy was read for “Little Miss Nobody” by an attendee of the funeral, Dr. Parker. He recited a poem called “For a Little Girl Unknown” before addressing the crowd and reading his speech, Dr. Parker announced “"Here is a little wanderer who has been in our midst. We don't know her name; we can only guess her age. It occurs to me we may not know, but God knows. There are no unknowns, no orphans in God's world. ... She doesn't need a name today. She has the name of an angel somewhere in eternity... we may never know the why's and wherefores, but, somewhere, someone is going to be watching the paper to learn what happened to a little girl left on the desert. If there has been a misdeed, probably a disquieted conscience will go on and on.”
Because of recent advances in technology, DNA profiling, and forensic genealogy, in 2018 the decision was made to exhume the body of “Little Miss Nobody” and obtain a DNA sample. The National Center of Missing and Exploited children offered to pay for the exhumation and other testing’s required. After successfully extricating a DNA sample, the DNA findings were put into the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Missing and Unidentified Persons System databases to be compared to nationwide unsolved murders and kidnappings.
In addition, The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification were able to create a detailed forensic facial reconstruction of the little girl, showing what she might have looked like in life.
Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, addressed the media following the release of the composite drawing of how Little Miss Nobody may have looked like.
The Sheriff stated "Any detail, no matter how small [it may seem], is important in the quest to determine this child’s identity."
For 60 years, we have been left to wonder what happened to this beautiful little girl, and we owe her answers.
Who and What Happened to this little girl?
Please report any possible information no matter how small to the Yavapai County Sheriffs Office, (928) - 771 - 3260.