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22-Year-Old Cold Case Solved

22-Year-Old Cold Case Solved
October 31
11:10 2016

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit has solved the missing persons case of Brian Nez. Nez, a 19-year-old Native American male from Flagstaff, had been reported missing by his family on October 25, 1994.

The information from the initial investigation found that Nez was believed to have last been seen at a party in Winslow, AZ in August or September of 1994.

The case went cold after several people were interviewed and no information developed as to his whereabouts.

Nez’s case was re-opened in March 2016. It was found that an unidentified victim of a fatal vehicle-pedestrian traffic accident about 2 miles north of Winslow, AZ in August 1994 had a similar description to the missing person case.

Investigators believed that the unidentified pedestrian who died in the accident could be Nez.

Nez had been fingerprinted as a seven-year-old child under a nationwide program called Operation Child ID.  His mother had kept the fingerprint card and had given it to the Sheriff’s Detective who worked the original case.  Cold Case Investigators submitted the print card to the Department of Public Safety Crime Lab for comparison with fingerprints of the accident victim.  A positive identification was made matching the fingerprint card of the Brian Nez taken during Operation Child ID with the victim of the fatal traffic accident.


“While this is a sad outcome for the family to know that their loved one is deceased, they are able to bring their loved one to rest,” said Chief Deputy Jim Driscoll. Driscoll went on to say, “The new technologies that have developed over time in terms of fingerprint analyses and data sharing have given us tools to re-analyze these cold cases, and we are dedicated to continuing to solve as many as we can.”

The fatal traffic accident investigation will remain with the Department of Public Safety.

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