EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Doña Ana County Sheriffs detectives identified Upham Girl’s remains as 16-year-old Dorothy Harrison from Wichita, Kansas.
Dorothy’s skeletal remains were found on March 10, 1985, when three men who were rabbit hunting came across her skeletal remains off County Rd. E73 near Upham. The road was frequented by ranchers and hunters, leading to Hatch, NM. The remains were found covered by thin plastic with bones scattered nearby.
According to investigators, they extracted DNA from ‘Upham Girl’s’ femur, which led them to use ancestral DNA to identify her as Harrison, who had left her home in Kansas in the summer of 1984.
Her description and artist sketches were added to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, known as NAMUS in 2010 without any luck. The case ran cold until DASO teamed up with the National Center for Missing and Exploiting Children and Astrea Forensics to extract DNA from her remains. That DNA profile was then used to search for close DNA relatives with the help of Innovative Forensics Investigations, a Virginia-based genetic genealogy investigations provider.
Authorities learned Dorothy traveled to Los Angeles during the 1984 Summer Olympics and called her family in August 1984, saying she was in Los Angeles. Her family later spoke with her when she was in El Paso, Texas, sometime in August or early September 1984. Dorothy told her family that she intended to return to Witchita, Kansas, but she never arrived. Investigators say the teen had run away from home in the past, and it was not uncommon for her to leave the state.
Sheriff Kim Stewart says they are now working to determine where Dorothy Harrison was and who she was traveling with in the days leading up to her death, estimated in late 1984 or early 1985. They believe someone killed her between September 10, 1984, and January 10, 1985.
Dorothy was described as 5-feet-1 inches in height, weighing approximately 95 pounds. She had light brown hair and green eyes. She had uneven nostrils, a scar on the bow of her mouth, and often wore heavy eye makeup.
Authorities say she was last seen getting into a vehicle described as a large, tan, long car. She was picked up by two women, described as a white and a black female, who appeared older.
Dorothy is survived by her mother and five siblings. According to Stewart, the family asked for privacy as they processed the news of her death. They released a statement to the media, saying, “Dorothy was a typical teenager; she was only 16 years old when this horrific crime happened to her. Like most teens, she was sometimes unhappy at home and easily influenced. She left home with some people she thought were her friends, and we never saw her again. The news of her death is devastating, and even though this crime happened over 30 years ago to our family, it is new and incredibly difficult information to process. We have so many unanswered questions and are hopeful that the continued investigation will be able to provide some of those answers.”
If you have any information about Dorothy Harrison or believe you encountered her between July 25, 1984, and the time of her death, please get in touch with DASO Detectives at (575) 525-1911.
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