ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The 37-year mystery of “The Upham Girl” has been solved, at least partially. Investigators have announced the identity of the girl whose remains were found near Upham, New Mexico in 1985. Now that they know who she is, they’ll work to find out how she ended up dead, thousands of miles from home. “After more than three decades, we’re proud to announce Jane Doe has officially been identified as 16-yr old Dorothy Harrison,” says Detective Melissa Agullo with the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s office.
For 37 years, Dorothy Harrison was known only as the “Upham Girl”, after her body was found in a shallow grave by rabbit hunters near Upham in southern New Mexico, what is now the exit to the spaceport. “The reason we’re here today is because no one ever gave up. the work that continued for over three decades never wavered and it’s the reason we’re here today,” says Ansley Cotter with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
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Investigators now know she left her home in Wichita, Kansas in 1984, with two women her family didn’t know.
They say she called her family to tell them she was in Los Angeles, weeks later she called to say she was in El Paso and on her way back to Kansas. Detective Melissa Agullo said, “No one hears from Dorothy after this last phone call.”
A year later, in 1985, her body was found in New Mexico. After every lead into identifying the teen turned into a dead end, the case was re-examined in March of last year, when detective Melissa Agullo with the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office took over.
“The case of Jane Doe was assigned to me with the hope that new technology and investigative tools could lead to the answers that had long eluded this case,” says Detective Agullo.
Agullo then got in touch with Ansley Cotter, with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who offered her DNA resources to unidentified cases. They were able to take DNA from Harrison’s femur bone and build a family tree from that DNA and from that were able to get her identity.
“Dorothys family as you might imagine this hit them quite significantly even though it’s been all these years later, they never had an inkling as to what happened to their daughter and sister,” says Doña Ana County Sheriff, Kim Stewart.
Many questions still remain in this case and even though there’s some closure, Harrison’s family continues to grieve. “The news of her death is devastating and even though this crime happened over thirty years ago to our family it’s new and incredibly difficult information to process,” says Sheriff Stewart.