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A forensic pathologist in Tucson has determined that the remains found south of Safford Monday are those of a girl or woman between the ages of 14 and 22, said Graham County Sheriff P.J. Allred.

Detectives have their suspicions as to how she died, but they aren’t releasing them at this time. However, they definitely know she was the victim of a homicide, said Undersheriff Jeff McCormies. How long she’s been dead still isn’t known.

Allred said the victim’s remains were found submerged in a 4-foot by 2-foot float box, which is part of a livestock watering system.

“Somebody had to remove the cover, put her in it and cover it back up,” Allred said.

Earlier this week Allred said a quail hunter called the sheriff’s office around noon Monday to say he’d found a bag near Artesia Road and suspected a dead child was inside of it because there were toys next to it.

The remains were taken to the Office of the Pima County Medical Examiner in Tucson and an autopsy was conducted Thursday morning.

McCormies said he has since learned the body was actually in a tarp.

There was nothing on or with the body to help authorities identify her, Allred said.

No one matching the victim’s description has been reported missing in the Gila Valley and detectives are reaching out to other Arizona agencies to see if they have taken any reports, McCormies said. If they aren’t successful, they’ll extend their search further.

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