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DNA match helps identify body known as 'Valentine Sally' found near Flagstaff in 1982

Valentine Sally
Posted at 11:34 AM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 13:51:15-05

FLAGSTAFF, AZ — Nearly 40 years after the northern Arizona discovery, an unidentified body that came to be known as "Valentine Sally" has been identified as a 17-year-old girl.

On Feb. 14, 1982, an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper stopped to help a motorist along Interstate 40 west of Williams. During that stop, the trooper discovered the body of an unknown female.

Detectives worked through the decades to identify the body with no success, until recently when a grant from National Center for Missing and Exploited Children helped Coconino County Sheriff's Office conduct tests through a private vendor.

The grant allowed officials to complete a familial DNA search to try to locate relatives of "Valentine Sally," and it was discovered that the DNA matched members of a family in Missouri.

Detectives flew to the St. Louis-area family and interviewed them, learning that they had a sibling, 17-year-old Carolyn Eaton, who had run away from home around Christmas in 1981.

The true identity of "Valentine Sally" is now confirmed to be that of the runaway teenager.

According to NCMEC, when Eaton's body was found, it's believed she had been dead for about two weeks.

CCSO says the case is still under investigation as a homicide, but there are still no identified suspects.