The Adrienne Salinas death investigation isn't necessarily a homicide case, as police had indicated yesterday, Tempe police say this afternoon.
Investigators saw no obvious signs of foul play during their preliminary look at the 19-year-old Tempe woman's remains, which were found in Apache Junction last week, says Sergeant Mike Pooley, police spokesman. But, he adds, it's too early in the investigation to say what happened to the woman, whose body was badly decomposed.
The fact that she was found in a wash is a "big concern," Pooley says.
The Gateway Community College student had been missing for two months after last being seen in the early morning on June 15. Her car, having been seen hitting a median in Tempe, was found abandoned a few blocks from her Tempe apartment. Salinas apparently sent a text to her boyfriend at 4:43 a.m., saying, "I'm coming over."
Her remains were found on August 6 in a wash just off Highway 88 and Lost Dutchman Boulevard. FBI and local police agencies are scouring the area for evidence.
Pooley told the news media on Thursday that, "We are treating this as a homicide investigation."
Now police say they're not sure.
Pooley released a "clarification" just after 1 p.m. that reads:
"At this point in the investigation, we do not conclusively know Adrienne's cause or manner of death. We will continue to work with the Medical Examiner's office and other law enforcement partners, but we cannot rule anything out and we have not as of yet classified this case as a homicide. Clearly, we have and continue to place significant resources on this investigation.
This is an extremely difficult time for everyone involved and we are committed to learn the truth regarding what happened to Adrienne Salinas and if it is determined to be a homicide, to bring the person or persons responsible to justice."
"Obviously, finding her body out in the wash is a big concern," Pooley tells New Times. "But before we can come out and say it's a homicide, we've got to find out the cause of death."
Pooley described the condition of the remains, which had been exposed to floods in the wash and possibly animals.
"The entire body was not intact," he says. However, investigators didn't think the shape of the body was necessarily related to the cause of death.
More information will be available in a week or two, after the medical examiner's report is released, he says.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.