Cause of death
Unidentified for 55 years, 5 months and 29 days
July 31, 1960Congress, Arizona
Boy in the Box (Philadelphia), Sahara Sue, Princess Doe
Little Miss Nobody Jane Doe | Eleena Jane
Little Miss Nobody was the name given posthumously to an unknown American girl whose body was found in Congress, Yavapai County, Arizona on July 31, 1960. Efforts were made to discover who the child was prior to her death, both local and national, yet the case remains unsolved.
Discovery and examination
A girl's partially buried body was found in Sand Wash Creek Bed on Old Alamo Road in Congress, Arizona on July 31, 1960. A local family searching for rocks reported finding the remains. It was determined that she had been dead for one to two weeks and that she had a full set of baby teeth.
The forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy reported that the body was that of a white girl between the ages of 5 and 7-years, 3 feet–6 inches to 4 feet–5 inches in height, weighing 50 to 60 pounds. Later reports said she may have been as old as 9 or as young as 4 at the time she died.
Investigators at the scene observed that the individual or individuals responsible for the burial had possibly made several attempts to dig a different grave for the body. This was suggested by disturbances in the sand near the body. They also speculated that the victim had been buried under these circumstances due to poverty, or that her family may have been migrants.
Because the body was in an advanced state of decomposition, a positive visual identification was not possible. Records kept at the National missing and Unidentified Persons System, however, said the face was in a "recognizable" state. Another report also indicates the remains were charred, presumably from being set on fire. The toes and fingernails had reportedly been painted a bright red color, and her brown hair had been dyed auburn or reddish brown. The body was clothed in white shorts and a checkered blouse, along with a pair of sandals that were cut to fit her feet and fastened with leather straps. Investigators found an apparently bloodstained pocket knife near the body, but could not definitively tie it to the crime. The cause of death was never determined by medical examiners.
By March 1961, a possibility came to light that the victim may have been Debbie Dudley, a four-year-old girl that was missing from Virginia. Investigators had failed to find the bodies of Dudley and her remaining siblings after the body of her sister was found in February 1961, dying from the result of neglect from her parents. Debbie's remains were later found in the southern portion of Virginia and she was interred next to her sister. The parents of the victims were later charged with their murders.
Yavapai County sheriff's deputies, along with the media and private citizens, worked to learn her identity. Sheriff Cramer and other law enforcement personnel traveled hundreds of miles by air and land, following leads. Suspects in other crimes involving small children were questioned. The sheriff's office received dozens of letters, telephone calls, and telegrams asking for information about the child.
On August 8, 1961, the sheriff led a party of law enforcement officers and a camera crew to film the location where the body had been found. Later that afternoon, the sheriff, along with Yavapai County Attorney George Ireland, presented evidence including adult-sized rubber flip-flops cut down to fit the child's feet.
Cramer stated, "Somewhere there is someone who has the answer that we have been looking for; maybe this will be the thing that will bring that person forward." The footage of the scene was later broadcast on television in 1961 to procure leads toward identification.
When local efforts failed to identify her, the Federal Bureau of Investigation also tried and failed.
The girl's DNA was successfully processed. The profile would be used to enter into national databases and be compared with missing persons.
A campaign for funds to provide a burial, other than in a pauper's grave, was led by radio announcer Dave Palladin of Prescott radio station KYCA. Palladin, who referred to the victim as "Little Miss Nobody" said he "couldn't stand to see the little girl buried in a Boot Hill." Local sympathizers gave donations, and over 70 attended the funeral.
A placard on her casket bore the inscription, "God's little child, date of birth unknown, date of death unknown."
A local florist, the caretakers from the cemetery, and a local mortuary, provided funeral services on August 10, 1960, with Dr. Charles Franklin Parker of Prescott's Congregational Church conducting the rites. During the eulogy, he told the attendees, "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."