A young girl who turned up dead in Arizona more than six decades ago, who later became known as “Little Miss Nobody” has finally been identified and her disappearance partly solved, authorities said.
Her body was found in the Arizona desert on July 31, 1960. She wore a blue buttoned blouse and shorts, and on her small feet were adult flip-flops that had been cut to size. Her fingernails and her toenails were painted. But her name, her race, and even her age could not be discerned.
No one has ever been arrested in the case. Her exact cause of death remains unknown. The girl was identified as Sharon Lee Gallegos, local police announced Tuesday.
While the abduction of Gallegos and the girl’s body in the desert were quickly connected in the early days of the investigation, police believed at the time that the dead child was at least 7 years old, the Arizona Republic reported.
With help from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, investigators performed a new DNA analysis that linked her to relatives in New Mexico.
At the time Sharon’s body was found, investigators discovered that it had been burned and her death was ruled a homicide. They also found evidence of other individuals at the burial site.
The child’s remains were found about 500 miles from where she was abducted in Alamogordo, N.M., and she was ultimately buried in a cemetery in Prescott, Ariz., with “Little Miss Nobody. Blessed are the Pure in Heart… St. Matthew 5:8.” engraved on the headstone.
“The unidentified little girl who won the hearts of Yavapai County in 1960 and who occupied the minds and time of [the sheriff’s office] and partners for 62 years will now rightfully be given her name back and will no longer need to be referred to as ‘Little Miss Nobody,'” the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post this week.
An online fundraiser raised money for new DNA testing after her remains were exhumed in 2018. The sheriff’s office partnered with a Texas lab that works exclusively with law enforcement to see if advanced forensic testing could help identify the dead child.
Part of the reason it took so long to identify the girl was because for years authorities didn’t believe the body could have belonged to Sharon, citing certain elements that didn’t seem to match up. But the DNA tests conclusively proved that the body is Sharon Gallegos’.
A news report from 1960 said that a local radio announcer and his wife stood in for the girl’s parents at the funeral so she would not be without support.
“I guess I just couldn’t stand to see a little child buried in boot hill,” KYCA announcer Dave Paladin was quoted as saying in an August 11, 1960 article by The Associated Press, according to Daily Mail.
By all accounts, Sharon was abducted from her grandmother’s garden in Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 21, 1960. Her body would not be found until ten days later.
Over the years, the Alamogordo Police Department, the FBI, the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children, and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System all worked on the case. However, the case went cold until investigators were able to use DNA evidence in 2015.
Then in 2022, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office and Texas DNA company Othram raised thousands of dollars to do specialized testing on the girl’s exhumed DNA sample. These efforts finally helped authorities identify Little Miss Nobody as Sharon Lee Gallegos.
Sharon’s parents have died, but her nephew Ray Chavez was able to receive the news about his long-dead aunt.
“We were amazed how the people rallied around her,” Chavez said. “Thank you for keeping my aunt safe and never forgetting her.”
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