What Really Solved The 62-Year-Old Cold Case Of Little Miss Nobody

In 1960, a hiker in Arizona discovered a young girl's body that was badly decomposed and burned. According to The New York Times, for more than six decades, this unknown child was only known only by the monikers Jane Yavapai Doe — Yavapai being the name of the Arizona country where the body was found — and "Little Miss Nobody."

The young girl's identity was a mystery to both investigators and missing person advocates for many years and it wasn't until 2022, when DNA technology had progressed to be of use in the case, that investigators were able to definitively identify the Little Miss Nobody as Sharon Lee Gallegos, who had been just 4 years old when she disappeared from her grandmother's backyard in New Mexico (per Sky News).

The announcement that the body belonged to Gallegos brought closure of sorts to two tragic cases that ultimately turned out to be one and the same.

Little Miss Nobody is found

Little Miss Nobody, as she was known at the time, was found on July 31, 1960, and was described as "half-burned" by the Prescott Evening Observer. The body, which had been discovered half-buried, was dressed in a checkered blouse and white shorts, and a pair of adult flip-flops that had been cut down to fit a child (via The New York Times). Little Miss Nobody was also reported to be 42 inches tall, weighed between 55 and 65 pounds, had red-painted fingernails, a full set of baby teeth, and brown hair that was believed to have been dyed or tinted auburn. Investigators believed the body belonged to a young girl between the ages of 5 and 7 years old.

Further details were nearly impossible for investigators to ascertain based on the body's advanced state of decomposition when it was discovered. This prevented any definitive determination on a cause of death, though it was noted that there were no broken bones.

The mystery of Little Miss Nobody deepens

The Prescott Evening Observer reported that the tragic story of the unidentified girl had captured Prescott residents' hearts, and despite not having any inkling as to who she was, a memorial service was held for Little Miss Nobody.

A local radio host had come up with the idea saying that he couldn't stand to see the young girl, "buried in a 'Boot Hill,'" and gathered florists, cemetery workers, and a funeral home to put on a proper service.

"Dr. Charles Franklin Parker conducted the rites, attended by more than 70 mourners of the unknown child. Her card of memorium identified her as "God's Little Child, date of birth unknown; date of death unknown,'" the Evening Observer reported.

Investigators looked into lots of missing children cases to see if they could find some kind of connection to Little Miss Nobody. They also interviewed criminals who had previously committed crimes hoping it could lead them in the right direction.

There were also several instances of families who were missing children coming to Arizona to find out if the unknown child could be theirs.

Sharon Lee Gallegos goes missing

As investigators were still trying to put together what happened to and who was Little Miss Nobody, Sharon Lee Gallegos' family was reeling. According to Sky News, the 4-year-old girl had vanished on July 21, 1960, just ten days before Little Miss Nobody was discovered.

Gallegos had vanished while playing with two other kids in an alley behind her grandmother's house in New Mexico, according to The Daily Beast. There were some reports that police were looking for suspects driving a green 1952 or 1953 Plymouth, but none were found.

Gallegos was considered as being Little Miss Nobody, but investigators had believed that the unidentified girl was around 7 years old, substantially older than Gallegos who was just 4 years old when she vanished, and she was ruled out. However, given the state of the body when it was discovered, getting an accurate indication of the child's age was exceedingly difficult, if not impossible.

New technology leads to exhumation

There was little movement on the Little Miss Nobody case for many years given the lack of suspects and relative lack of evidence, plus it didn't help that the young girl who would turn out to be Little Miss Nobody had been erroneously ruled out early on.

DNA is a common tool in modern forensic science, and by the 21st century, it had gotten to a point where it could help break the Little Miss Nobody case wide open. First, the young girl's body was exhumed in 2015 and a reconstruction sketch was done of what it was believed she would have looked like before her death (via The Daily Beast). A DNA sample was taken but it was still a few years before that sample would offer an answer for investigators, and some closure for a family that had been without it for over sixty years.

Sharon Lee Gallegos is Little Miss Nobody

In 2022, it was announced that the Little Miss Nobody name could be dropped for good as her identity had been revealed: she was Sharon Lee Gallegos.

According to The New York Times, DNA testing was finally able to confirm that the remains found in the blistering Arizona desert belonged to Gallegos, and her family was happy to have some amount of closure.

Her nephew, Ray Chavez recalled hearing stories about Sharon and that she was often described as "feisty." Her disappearance had loomed over the family for many years, and according to The Daily Beast, Chavez had even written a paper in high school about his aunt's disappearance.

"I wasn't even born when she was taken ... but it was something that our family grew up with," he said, then thanked investigators. "It's amazing the work that you did for our family to be at peace."

Chavez also thanked the residents of Prescott, Arizona who had memorialized Sharon Lee Gallegos in the early 1960s when she was still only known to them as Little Miss Nobody. "Thank you for never forgetting her," Chavez said.