After Sixty Years of Mystery, “Little Miss Nobody” is Finally Somebody

An Abducted Four-Year-Old Will Finally Go Home

Joni E. Johnston, Psy. D.

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copyright free, image provided by National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Thursday, July 21, 1960, started just like any other day for four-year-old Sharon Lee Gallegos. The temperature in Alamogordo, New Mexico began as a pleasant 68.4 degrees but, by midday, would peak at a sweat-staining 90.3. Not that that kept Sharon from doing what four-year-olds do; play outside with her cousins at her grandma’s house. Ten days later, she would be dead.

We don’t know precisely what Grandma was doing in the house while her grandchildren were outside. Maybe she was cleaning or cooking or sewing. Perhaps she was humming along to Ray Orbison’s or Hollywood Argyle’s Alley-Oop. She certainly wouldn’t have been concerned about the safety of her within-earshot grandchildren. It was a different time.

Tarzan the Magnificent was swinging at the box office; Sharon was a few years away to be excited about hunky Gordon Scott hanging from the tree branches, but her older male cousins would have eaten it up.

It was a relatively slow news day. Francis Chichester crossed the Atlantic aboard his boat, the Gypsy Moth II, setting a new solo record of forty days. Sirimavo Bandaranaike was elected Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, making her the world’s first woman prime minister. But as far as anyone in Sharon’s orbit was concerned, these historical events were insignificant. It was Sharon’s disappearance that forever marked this day.

The Last Day

No one really knows what happened. Contemporaneous newspaper articles quoted witnesses reporting a woman, a man, and — possibly — one freckle-faced child drove up to the playing children in a dark green early 1950s sedan. They first tried to lure Sharon with offers of clothes and candy. When she refused, the woman pulled the 4-year-old girl into the car and sped away.

The remains now known as belonging to Sharon were found partially buried in a wash ten days later — July 31 — later in Yavapai County, Arizona, 500 miles to the west of where she went missing. Investigators guessed the girl was between three and six years old, and her remains had been buried a week or two before being discovered. If accurate, her captors must have killed…

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Joni E. Johnston, Psy. D.

Forensic psychologist/private investigator//author of serial killer book. Passionate about victim’s rights, the psychology of true crime, and criminal justice.