In February 1990, hikers discovered the victim's partial skeletal remains widely scattered in the vicinity of Hilltop Road on Shoshone Mountain in rural Lander County, Nevada once used for mining.
There were signs the victim suffered multiple blows to the head but it was not clear if the injuries were caused before or after death. She also had an unspecified previous injury to her right femur which may have affected the right hip and the way she walked. There was evidence of dismemberment and "sawing", and the woman's torso was never recovered. The woman was thought to be Native American and she had long dark hair. Investigators estimated that she was between the ages of 25 and 40 at the time of her death. The death was ruled a homicide.
There were few clues left at the scene. The woman was found wearing a hand crafted sterling silver ring with turquoise blue and coral red triangular stones in a size 7.5 to 8. In 2010, the case was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System as UP7532. Unfortunately, dental and DNA records did not match anyone. In June 2019, LSU FACES Laboratory produced an updated forensic facial sketch of the woman but this also failed to produce leads to the woman's identity. With all leads exhausted, the case eventually went cold.
In June 2022, Nevada State Police and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) enlisted the help of Othram to perform advanced forensic DNA testing of the remains. Skeletal remains from the homicide victim were sent to Othram. Othram scientists developed a suitable DNA extract and used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the victim. Othram's in-house genealogy team used the profile in a genetic genealogy search, to produce new investigative leads. These leads were returned to detectives with the Nevada State Police.
The leads from Othram combined with detectives' pursuit of a follow up investigation eventually revealed that the female homicide victim found more than three decades ago was in fact 19-year-old Judy Manzaneras of Salt Lake City. Manzaneras had been reported missing by her family but was never connected to this case.
Manzaneras' cause of death was ruled a homicide and the investigation into her death continues. Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Nevada State Police Investigation Division at 775-684-7412.
The services provided by Othram for this case were funded by the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). NamUs is a national clearinghouse funded and administered by the National Institute of Justice and managed through a contract with RTI International that assists the criminal justice community with the investigation and resolution of missing, unidentified, and unclaimed persons cases across the United States and its territories. We are grateful to RTI, NamUs, and the NIJ for the support.