Crime Trackers

Jun 24, 2014 2:22 AM by Lupita Murillo

N4T Crime Trackers: Could cold case murder be tied to others?

TUCSON - The family of Vanessa McGaughy has been searching for answers for decades desperate to find the person who killed her and left her out in the desert 30 years ago.

Recently a family member traveled to Tucson from Florida to talk with detectives about the case.

Mc Gaughy, was 34-years-old. She was a mother, and Pima County Sheriff's Detectives said she worked the Grant and Oracle corridor as a prostitute. But it wasn't by choice. Detective Charles Garcia said, "She was forced into prostitution by her boyfriend."

January 3, 1987, her body was found at the foot of the Tucson Mountains in an area overlooking the city lights. "She died a very brutal and violent death," said Detective Garcia.

Near her body investigators found, a beer bottle, some condoms, and a cigarette butt. All contained DNA, technology that wasn't being used in investigations back in 1987. "We are right now beginning to re-investigate this case to see what new items we can now submit for testing."

It was during that process, Detective Garcia discovered, "There were some similar cases back in the late 80's that fit the description of Ms. McGaughy's death that warrant further investigation."

Some of the cases include, Ginger Daily's. Her body was found in August 1980. Detective Mark O'Dell said, "She was found nude and bound."

September 1985, 17-year-old Heather Johnson went missing. Detective Dan Preuss said, "Her remains were actually found in December of 1985, however they weren't positively identified as hers until the following year."

April 1986, 25-year-old Joan Archer went for her morning bike ride and never returned. She was stabbed to death. Detective Preuss said, they had DNA and fingerprints on pieces of evidence that was collected from the scene.

Followed by July 1988, when 23-year-old Cheri Tyra was found strangled to death and left in the desert.

Detective Garcia, is now looking over those cases, to see if there is a connection and, "What avenues of investigation are now open to us as a result of all the documentation from other investigations."

Detective Garcia said, right around Christmas in 1986, Vanessa McGaughy told her family in Florida she wanted to go home and get away from her abusive boyfriend. The family sent her a ticket but she never made it. Detective Garcia adds, "Vanessa had family that loved her and they haven't forgotten about her, and they don't want us to forget about her."

Det. Garcia is also reaching out to other agencies to see if they had similar cases in 80's. If you have information on any of these cases call 9-1-1. If you want to remain anonymous call 88-CRIME.


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