Remains of girl found in desert and dubbed ‘Little Miss Nobody’ identified 62 years later

·3-min read
A sketch of “Little Miss Nobody,” a little girl whose unidentified remains were discovered in an Arizona desert wash in 1960.  (National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children)
A sketch of “Little Miss Nobody,” a little girl whose unidentified remains were discovered in an Arizona desert wash in 1960. (National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children)

The punishing heat of the Arizona desert in mid-summer served as the backdrop for a chilling discovery in 1960; the partially buried remains of a little girl.

Believed by police to be between the ages of three and six-years-old, the girl's remains were likely buried for two weeks before they were discovered in Sand Creek Wash near Congress, Arizona. After she was exhumed from the desert, investigators set about to identify her.

For 62 years, the little girl has been referred to as "Little Miss Nobody." On Tuesday she was finally identified as Sharon Lee Gallegos, who was abducted from her home in New Mexico.

At the time, Sharon’s death was ruled a homicide, and a pair of adult shoe prints were found near the site of her discovery. She was provided a funeral by the nearby community of Prescott, Arizona, as authorities were unable to determine her identity.

“The unidentified little girl who won the hearts of Yavapai County in 1960 and who occupied the minds and time of YCSO and partner 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 sheriff's office said in a press statement announcing their discovery.

According to the sheriff's department, Sharon’s identity was determined using DNA analysis conducted by a Texas-based laboratory.

In 2018, Sharon was exhumed so that her DNA could be analysed. However, DNA testing was not advanced enough at the time to determine her identity. However, with recent advances in DNA technology, Sharon could finally be identified.

Othram, a lab based in Texas that analyses DNA, confirmed that the remains belong to Sharon. It was determined she was four years old when she was abducted and killed.

Officials said they still hope to identify who took her and what happened during the 10-day span that she was missing before her body was found.

According to The Charley Project, Sharon was abducted from behind her grandmother’s house in Alamogordo, New Mexico, on 21 July, 1960.

According to two children who were with Sharon at the time, a “dirty old green car” driven by a man and a woman approached the group and offered Sharon candy and clothes if she would enter the car. She reportedly refused, and the couple dragged Sharon into the car and fled.

The abduction was reported immediately, but police could not locate the couple.

“The male abductor is described as a fair and thin Caucasian man with a long nose and straight sandy-colored hair. The female is described as short and overweight with dirty blonde hair and eyeglasses; she was in her thirties,” according to The Charley Project. “Witnesses reported that a woman matching the description of Sharon’s female abductor had been seen in the neighborhood, asking questions about Sharon, her mother and their home.”

Police at the time believed that the couple had been talking to Sharon for up a week prior to her abduction. They believe they spotted the girl after church on the Sunday before her disappearance.

Sharon’s remaining family members assisted with identifying the girl’s remains by providing DNA samples. They were informed when Othram positively identified the remains as Sharon’s. Her nephew, Ray Chavez, was present at the press conference to represent her family. He was born five years after she was abducted.

He said his family grew up with Sharon’s story as a part of their lives, and that he even did a research paper when he was in high school about his missing aunt’s story. His mother and his aunt – Sharon’s mother – have since passed.

Mr Chavez thanked the sheriff’s office for not giving up on the case after six decades.

“We were really overjoyed,” he said of learning the truth of his aunt’s identity.

He also thanked the Prescott community for keeping the memory of “Little Miss Nobody” alive over the years.

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