On October 26, 2020, a hunter in rural eastern Arizona made a problematic discovery: the body of a teenage girl partly immersed in a floating box. Even stranger, the girl was dressed in what detectives would describe as a “witch’s gown”. Despite the strange situations and the rural area in which the body was found, the girl still has not been recognized, nor has her killer been imprisoned.
Eastern Arizona is a sparsely populated, rural part of the state. Graham County, where the body was found, is 4,641 square miles in area with a community of only 39,000 people. Its biggest town by far, Safford, has a population of 9,500. This is not a county where it is easy for a teenager’s missing to go unnoticed.
The body was found seven miles outside of Artesia, AZ, and thirteen miles south of Stafford. The floating box in which the girl’s body was submerged is used to water livestock and is fixed within a small corral. Besides the corral, there are no manmade facilities nearby, just desert scrubland.
Could the girl have been from a bigger city nearby? Artesia is 1 hour 45 minutes away from Tucson, over 3 hours from Phoenix, and 3 hours from Las Cruces, NM. It is encompassed by miles upon miles of clear desert. If the body had been spotted a couple of hundred feet distant into the desert brush, it likely would never have been discovered. Why would someone take a body so far from the city only to leave it in the one place where it would almost certainly be found finally? If Artesia Doe was killed in the same area where her body was discovered, why was she out there? And why was she dressed as a witch? Was it a Halloween costume or something else completely?
It is unbelievable that Artesia Doe was a migrant from Latin America, as this part of Arizona is too far north. Migrants coming in from Mexico usually make their way to Tucson or Phoenix. Even if she were missing, there’s no way she couldn’t have run into I-10 before entering Artesia, which is 90 miles north of the border.
Artesia Doe was possibly between 13 and 17 years old, though she may have been as old as 22. She stood 5’1 tall and had short, light brown hair. Detectives believe she died in 2020, but the actual postmortem interval is unknown. The body was in such a poor situation that weight and eye color could not be determined. Fortunately, facial reconstruction is now accessible through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.