TEMPE, AZ - Police have confirmed a body found in a desert wash in Apache Junction is that of missing 19-year-old Adrienne Salinas.
Tempe police Sgt. Michael Pooley said DNA confirmation was made by the Arizona Department of Public Safety lab.
Searchers spent the day Thursday combing the area near Highway 88 and Lost Dutchman Boulevard for clues into the victim's identity and death.
Pooley said the skeletal remains were discovered in a wash on August 6 by property owner Dan Kelly.
Kelly says after a big flood two weeks ago, he noticed vultures were showing up in the same spot every day. He assumed they were after coyotes until he finally took a closer look and spotted human legs.
Kelly called Apache Junction police, detectives then realized the remains fit the description of Salinas.
Tempe police were contacted the following day as were the teenager's family, Pooley said.
The investigation of the remains remained a secret until early Thursday morning.
Salinas' body was taken to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Pima County for identification.
After learning a positive identification had been made, Kelly says the tragedy of his find really sank in.
“When it was just a body it was sad, but now that there's a face to it I don’t like it. I really feel for the parents. My daughter's 19, this could've been her, could've been one of her friends,” Kelly said.
Thursday’s search stopped around 12:30 p.m. due to the heat. Investigators with the Tempe and Apache Junction police departments and the FBI will resume searching for evidence in the area again early Friday morning.
Police are ruling Salinas' death a homicide. They say there are no suspects or persons of interest at this time.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Tempe Police Department or Silent Witness. Specifically, people who live near the wash are asked to recall anything suspicious in the area around Father's Day weekend.
Salinas was last seen June 15, the day she called a local cab company and asked to be picked up to visit her boyfriend in Scottsdale.
She never made it to the cab or to her boyfriend's house.
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