Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office and partners including the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children (NCMEC); the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS); Othram, the laboratory that conducted the DNA analysis; and a long list of others over the years, have finally identified the little girl whose remains were found in the desert in Yavapai County in 1960.
Sharon Lee Gallegos was 4 years old when she was abducted from her grandmother’s front yard in Alamogordo, NM on July 21st, 1960. The Alamogordo Police Department and the FBI searched for the little girl but were unable to find her or the suspects who were said to be in a 1951 or 1952 dark green Plymouth. Though Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office and the Alamogordo Police Department in 1960 initially suspected the remains found in the desert to possibly be that of Sharon Gallegos, technology and science was not sophisticated enough at the time to make the identification.
Initial thoughts on the age of the remains, the clothing she was found in, and a mismatched footprint, at the time ruled out the abducted child from New Mexico as Little Miss Nobody. The case in Yavapai County went cold – until 2015. A chance meeting of YCSO and Colorado cold case investigators caused the reopening of a case that had been all but forgotten.
In 2015 the remains of the little girl interred in Prescott, Arizona were exhumed in the hope that a DNA match might someday be made. DNA was also obtained from living relatives of Sharon Gallegos, precipitated by the determination of scientists with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that the age of the remains was closer to the age of the missing New Mexico child than originally thought. However, technology was still not able to definitively link Sharon to Little Miss Nobody, despite numerous attempts over the next few years.
Then in 2021 YCSO was put in touch with Othram, a specialized lab that works specifically on identifying remains for law enforcement through advanced genome sequencing technology. Money was raised with the help of people all over the country to fund the analysis of the DNA, and in February 2022, Othram confirmed the remains were in fact Sharon Lee Gallegos.
“I salute the detectives and the volunteers with the cold case unit who took this case to heart in 2015 and did not let go until the unfortunate moniker of Little Miss Nobody could be removed from the headstone that sits in a cemetery here in Prescott” said Sheriff David Rhodes of Yavapai County. Those in attendance at the press conference held today were able to see a picture of Sharon, hear the details of the case and the investigation that led to her identification, and were also able to hear from Sharon’s nephew Ray Chavez, who had always lived in the specter of her abduction.
“Our family is so grateful to finally have answers. We want to thank the people of Prescott for taking care of my aunt for 62 years. Thank you for keeping her safe,” said Chavez. Though the little girl without a name now has one returned to her, the case of what happened to her in the 10 days between her abduction and the discovery of her remains is still a mystery.
YCSO hopes that anyone who was either an eyewitness to the abduction or has knowledge of what happened that July day in 1960, will come forward to assist in the continuing investigation. “We are honored to have solved the mystery of the little girl from the desert, and hope through the continued work of our detectives, volunteers and outside partners, to bring the same closure to other families of cold case victims” said Sheriff Rhodes. Those interested in helping to fund DNA analysis of missing and unidentified people can go to DNAsaves.com.