PHOENIX — Jenn Skeivik remembers it was a dark night on October 4, 1997. Skeivik back then, in her early 20s, was headed home from work near 34th Street and Clarendon.
"I was on the other side of the stop sign when I saw her white tennis shoes reflected off my headlights," said Skeivik as she vividly remembers the night. She says she pulled over and rolled down her window and asked, 'are you okay' but she heard nothing back from the person laying on her back about three feet off to the side of the road.
"The last thing on my mind was that this person would be dead. I thought they would definitely just need help," added Skeivik. She says she called 9-1-1 and that the operator suggested doing CPR but at that point Jenn knew no resuscitative efforts would be fruitful.
A composite sketch of the victim from Phoenix police is in the player above
"I think about her every day and I will never forget the feeling when I tried to wake her up and realized she was not coming back," said Skeivik as her voice trembles. Fast forward to 2019 and to this day, that woman Jenn found on the side of the road still hasn't been identified.
"I didn’t actually find out she hadn’t been identified until about maybe 2010-2011... I was blown away that she had not been identified yet," said Skeivik.
Police say the woman didn't have any form of I.D. at the time when she was disposed of at the intersection near Jenn's home.
"We were able to determine that she died of dehydration and hypothermia. We believe she might have been dropped there but we have not been able to identify her," said Detective Luis Samudio from the Phoenix Police Department.
Having never forgotten the case, in the last few years, Jenn has made the ancestry connection to this cold case.
"So the DNA Doe Project agreed to take her as an active case. She has her own page up here as 'Phoenix Jane doe 1997' is her case name,” added Skeivik.
The DNA Doe Project is an exciting new initiative that uses genetic genealogy to identify John and Jane Does.. We have become a go-to organization for law enforcement agencies and medical examiners across the country, helping them solve their most intractable cases.
The DNA Doe Project uses DNA information submitted by individuals into the GED Match database in order to find ancestry and lineage information. In the case of "Phoenix Jane Doe 1997", police were able to identify the region where the woman is from.
"In this case, we were able to determine that she's from an area of Chihuahua, Mexico," added Det. Samudio.
Chihuahua is a northern Mexican state, where many in the Phoenix area, have migrated from. The hope is that someone from the region will have submitted his/her DNA information and make a connection to this cold case.
"Even if they are a very distant relative, the more matches that are visible for this yep of work the easier it is," added Skeivik. "I get more hopeful every day that she'll be found or her family will be found and she'll get her name back."