The badly decomposed skeletal remains found in a wash in Apache Junction last week have been confirmed to be those of a missing Tempe woman, according to Tempe Police.
The Department of Public Safety Central Regional Crime Lab confirmed Thursday that the remains belonged to Adrienne Salinas, a 19-year-old Tempe woman who has been missing since June 15, Tempe police Sgt. Mike Pooley said at a press conference.
“Everybody is very saddened,” Pooley said. “We are heartbroken, and our hearts go out to the family. We want them to know that we are doing everything to provide them with answers.”
Pooley said the owner of the property in a part of Weekes Wash near the Lost Dutchman Boulevard and State Route 88 discovered the remains on Aug. 6.
The case is being treated as a homicide, and police suspect foul play but have no persons of interest at this time, he said. Police cannot determine the cause of death because of the condition of the remains, Pooley said.
He said police do not know how long Salinas has been dead and are waiting for the medical examiner’s office to complete a full forensic examination of the remains before providing any other information.
“Right now this is a big mystery,” he said. “There are a lot of holes in this mystery and we are trying to fill them … Right now nothing is off the table, nobody is off the table.”
More than 100 people from at least 12 different agencies searched the area near the wash Thursday morning, Pooley said, but police believe the remains were dumped in an area other than the one in which they were found.
He said police believe “severe” rainfall several weeks ago may have washed the body from another area of the wash.
“This wash is a very large wash,” he said. “Our main focus is trying to find out where the originating area was at. We’re also trying to figure out where it was that Adrienne was placed. We believe that the rains came in and that the flooding caused her body to wash downstream.”
Pooley said the stretch of wash that police are “really focused on” is about 4 miles long and that, at this point, they “may or may not have found things that are of evidentiary value while searching.”
“Basically, we we’re looking for anything to help us determine what happened to Adrienne,” he said.
Apache Junction Police Department spokeswoman Constance Halonen said the wash consists of rainwater and “local runoff” from the Superstition Mountains.
She said police are asking for help and tips from people who live in neighborhoods south of Lost Dutchman Boulevard between Goldfield and Tomahawk roads.
“It is a very lengthy wash that spans through multiple jurisdictions,” Halonen said.
Anyone who may have any information or may have seen “anything suspicious or anything out of the ordinary” should call Tempe Police at 480-350-8311 or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS, or contact the Apache Junction Police Department, Pooley said.
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