Remains Of Jane Doe Identified As 15-Year-Old Arizona Girl Missing Since 1992
Investigators are looking into if the teenager could have fallen victim to a serial killer.
A Jane Doe discovered in a remote Arizona desert over three decades ago recently was identified as a missing Phoenix teenager, officials announced.
The Apache Junction Police Department used DNA and genetic genealogy to determine the decomposed body belonged to 15-year-old Melody Harrison.
Harrison’s family reported her missing in June 1992. It would take 31 years, however, to determine that the remains located around 40 miles away from the teenager’s home that August belonged to her.
In August 1996, officials said Harrison was removed from missing person databases after family received reports of multiple sightings of the teenager “from individuals coming forth to the family,” and loved ones erroneously concluded that “she started a new life and did not want to go home.”
Stephanie Bourgeois, a crime tech investigator with the Apache Junction police who worked on the case with the DNA Doe Project, said, “There is peace of mind having found Melody’s identity and sharing with her family, but there isn’t closure surrounding the circumstances of her death.”
She added: “We are still searching to find out how she might have passed away.”
KPHO reported that investigators are looking into the possibility Harrison may have fallen victim to one of two serial killers preying on women around the time she went missing.
Between 1991 and 1992, Scott Lehr killed three women in the area. He was dubbed the “Babyseat Rapist” because of a child’s seat survivors said he had in his vehicle.
Bryan Patrick Miller, who became known as the “Zombie Hunter” because of a homemade costume he reportedly wore, was recently convicted for the 1992 and 1993 slayings of two victims in the region. One, like Harrison, was a 15-year-old girl.
“We will definitely follow up on all the leads we have, including these two,” Bourgeois told KPHO about the potential persons of interest who are both currently serving time on death row.
Anyone with possible information about the case is urged to contact Silent Witness at (480) W-I-T-N-E-S-S or (480) 948-6377; or (480) T-E-S-T-I-G-O for Spanish speakers. Anonymous tips can also be submitted on the website silentwitness.org.
A man who referred to himself as the ‘Zombie Hunter’ has been sentenced to death for the separate murders of two young women in the 1990s.