Identity Of “Valentine Sally” Confirmed After Almost 40 Years

Carolyn Eaton/"Valentine Sally" [Photo courtesy Coconino County Sheriff's Office]

Flagstaff – The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed the identity of “Valentine Sally,” a young woman found deceased on February 14, 1982 on Interstate 40 west of Williams. Detectives have positively identified her as 17-year-old Carolyn Eaton, of St. Louis, Missouri.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, detectives have been working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), National Missing and Unidentified Person System (NamUs) and the Arizona Department of Public Safety to identify “Valentine Sally” through familial DNA. This process utilized a private company that specializes in DNA processing for submission into online databases for genetic comparison. Information obtained from this database search identified a relative of “Valentine Sally”. Through this process, detectives were able to locate potential family members of Carolyn, obtain DNA samples from them, and confirm the identity of the body as Carolyn.

This case began on February 14th in 1982 (Valentine’s Day), when Carolyn Eaton’s body was found on the north side of Interstate 40 west of Williams, Arizona by an Arizona DPS Officer assisting a motorist along the highway.

Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sgt. Jack Judd, now retired, began this investigation as the responding detective working on this case. Detective Sgt. Judd continued working this case throughout the remainder of his career following up on numerous leads. The investigation passed through many detectives over the years since the initial report and transitioned to cold case detectives when all other leads were exhausted.

Detectives traveled to the St. Louis area to interview family members. It was found that the family members had a sibling who ran away from home around Christmas time in 1981. Detectives were able to retrieve DNA samples from relatives, which matched the DNA profile from “Valentine Sally.”

During the investigation, detectives worked with the St. Louis County Police Department Missing Persons detectives when contacting the family, who lives around the greater St Louis area. Detectives also worked with the Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department, Missouri where Carolyn lived before running away around Christmas 1981/New Years of 1982.

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