Little Miss Nobody

Sharon Gallegos: Identified After 62 Years

On July 31, 1960, a Las Vegas school teacher was collecting rocks in Sand Creek near Congress, Arizona when she discovered the decomposed remains of a young child partially buried in a wash a mile west of State Highway 93, a major thoroughfare between Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada. The remains were dressed in white shorts and a checkered blouse, and the fingernails were painted red. An autopsy revealed that the remains were those of a white female between the ages of four and six who had been dead approximately one to two weeks. As no evidence of trauma was observed at autopsy, the cause and manner of death were both ruled undetermined by the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office. Unofficially, the death was ruled a homicide due to the suspicious nature of the death.

Despite intensive efforts by the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, the child was not identified, and no suspects were developed. With all avenues of identification exhausted, she was buried in the Mountainview Cemetery near Prescott, Arizona. Dubbed “Little Miss Nobody” by the Prescott community, the grave was marked with a simple headstone reading “Little Miss Nobody, Blessed are the pure in heart, St. Matthew 5:8, 1960.”

For more than 60 years, Little Miss Nobody remained unidentified until the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office decided to exhume the remains in the hopes of at last getting an identification. In the intervening years, science had progressed and new techniques, specifically mitochondrial DNA and genetic genealogy, were being commonly used to identify the unidentified dead.

In 2015, Dr. Snow was sent to Prescott, Arizona to exhume the remains to obtain a DNA profile that hopefully would lead to an identification. The remains were exhumed, examined, and sent out for DNA analysis and a facial reconstruction.

The following year, a lead was recieved that the remains could be those of a missing juvenile, Sharon Gallegos, who had been missing from Alamogordo, New Mexico since July 21, 1960. According to the missing person’s report, Gallegos, then four years of age, was playing in an alley behind her home when she was abducted by a heavy-set Caucasian woman who was accompanied by a thin Caucasian man. Refusing candy offered by the woman, Sharon was grabbed and dragged to a “dirty, old green car.”

Initial DNA comparisons to two of Sharon’s siblings were inconclusive, and for the next five years other avenues of identification were pursued, all without success. In 2022, however, whole genome sequencing was performed by a different lab. The DNA sequence from the remains was then compared to the DNA of Sharon’s brother. The profile conclusively showed that the remains were, indeed, those of four-year-old Sharon Gallegos, identified 62 years after her death.

As is often the case, Sharon’s mother and father died without ever knowing what happened to their daughter. Investigation into Sharon’s abduction and death continues.