The Unnamed: Tempe Girl

          This month’s Jane Doe comes with a hefty drug use content warning. The Jane Doe known as Tempe Girl had overdosed less than 24 hours prior to the discovery of their body, meaning we know exactly what they looked like. We have witnesses who spoke to them right before they died. So why has no one come forward to identify Tempe Girl and give them their name back? Let’s explore.         

The Discovery

          On the morning of April 27, 2002, the body was found in the alley behind businesses in Tempe, Arizona near Arizona State University. It was determined that the individual had been deceased for less than a day prior to the discovery. The cause of death was an overdose of cocaine, which was confirmed when a witness came forward to state he had picked the individual up while they were hitchhiking the previous day. The man claimed the Doe spoke to him in Spanish, and told him about being kicked out of their home recently because of excessive drug use. The Doe also spoke about wanting to attend a concert. However, the pair then picked up a local drug dealer that sold the Doe cocaine – which they promptly ingested. The witness then reported that the Doe began having a seizure and they dropped them off behind a strip mall. The witness claimed he told the drug dealer to call the police, but that clearly did not happen, as the discovery of the deceased was not made until much later.

The Description

          The Jane Doe was dubbed as Tempe Girl for obvious reasons. They were estimated to be between 15 and 19 years old at the time of their death. They weighed around 120 pounds and stood between 5’ and 5’2” tall. Their race was unable to definitively be determined, but they were thought to be Hispanic of Indigenous. They had shoulder-length black hair and brown eyes. A small scar of about an inch was found on the back of their left hand, and an additional scar was found on their left shoulder. At the time of their death they were wearing a red halter top, blue jeans with a zipper on the side, and black mary-jane style shoes with 3” inch wedges. They were also wearing a purple bracelet and a hair tie on her wrist.

(A reconstruction of what the Tempe Girl looked like in life.
via The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)

Possible Matches

           At the time of this blog being written, six young women have been ruled out as being the Tempe Girl. The first rule out is Alissa Turney, who vanished from Maricopa County, Arizona on May 17, 2001. The second rule out is Veronica Martinez, who was last seen in San Joaquin County, California on March 29, 2001. The third rule out is Maria Mauricio, who was last seen in Maricopa County, AZ on January 20, 1997. The fourth rule out is Florinda Lopez, who was last seen in Collier, FL on June 18, 2001. The fifth rule out is Yuliana Escudero, who was last seen in Salem, OR sometime in early November 2001. The sixth and final rule out is Leanne Hausberg, who was last seen in Brooklyn, NY on March 18, 1999. Based on these current rule out, it seems that they are not restricting possible identities to the southwest United States, meaning there is a possibility that investigators believe there’s a chance Tempe Girl was transient.
          While scouring NamUs and the Charley Project, I came up with two possible identities for the Tempe Girl, though neither seems very compelling. The first possibility is Roberta Jean Raines, who went missing from Toppenish, WA on July 10, 2001. She falls at the older end of the age range for the Tempe Girl, but her height, weight, hair color, and eye color match. Unfortunately, not much is known publicly about Roberta’s case and the photos available of her online don’t look like her features are a match. The second possibility is Melmy Matos, who went missing from Aurora, CO on September 8, 2000. She falls in the right age range for the Tempe Girl, and her height, weight, hair color, and eye color match u. Unfortunately, there are no photos of Melmy online, so it’s impossible to do a physical comparison.
          As is always the case with Does, we have to consider the possibility that the Tempe Girl was not reported missing. I think this is especially possible in this case, based on what we know from the man who had given them a ride shortly before their death. If this Doe had been disowned for their drug use, then their family would not be expecting them to communicate. Known drug users are often spotty in communication with their friends. And often, unfortunately, we see investigative agencies refusing to take missing persons reports for drug users, especially when their family members do not consider them missing. Based on my research, this seems like the most likely case here. None of the missing persons cases that line up with the vital statistics for the Tempe Girl seem like a match.

Investigating Agencies

          So, because it seems like the Tempe Girl was never reported missing, it is immensely important for anyone who has any information to come forward. The Tempe Girl deserves her name back. It doesn’t matter what they were going through at the time of their death. Everyone deserves to have their name. If you or anyone you know has any information, please contact the proper authorities. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner can be reached at 602-506-3322 in reference to case number 02-067757. The Tempe Police Department can be reached at 480-350-8311. They deserve their name and they deserve to rest in peace. If you can give that to them, step up.

Sources

  1. https://unidentified.maricopa.gov/Home/Case?CaseNumber=02-1368
  2. https://www.missingkids.org/poster/NCMU/1111241
  3. https://www.namus.gov/UnidentifiedPersons/Case#/1987
  4. http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/501ufaz.html
  5. http://www.justicefornativewomen.com/2016/01/tempe-girl-unidentified-and-discovered.html
  6. http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/09/13/grace.coldcase.jane.doe/index.html
  7. https://archive.azcentral.com/specials/special14/articles/0106coldcase06.html
  8. https://peoplepill.com/people/tempe-girl

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