The woman didn't have a purse or any identification, but a shopping bag with a holiday motif was near the body. Police learned later that the victim had gotten the bag at a "secret Santa" party across the street at the little preschool where she worked.
Patrick Kotecki, the alert supervisor who was Detective Femenia's sergeant at the time, noted that the woman's bra was visible and her pants were pulled down a bit.
Kotecki recalled that a memo recently had circulated at police headquarters about a man sexually assaulting and (sometimes) robbing women near Baseline Road.
He wondered, along with homicide unit Lieutenant Benny Pina, whether any connection might exist between this murder and the other cases.
Police had an eyewitness, of sorts.
Pete Ochoa had escaped with his own life by a whisker — more precisely, a misfired handgun, the same weapon that the woman in the VW would be spared from months later.
Femenia interviewed Ochoa that night in the warehouse where the man operated a catering business. Ochoa clearly was dazed and trembling at times, though he was able to converse with the detective.
He told of hearing two bangs just outside the back door, figuring that some neighbor kids were playing football in the driveway, as they had before. He unlocked the oversize metal door and stepped out to shoo them away when he saw a man in a hooded sweatshirt crouching over a motionless body.
The man immediately rose to his feet, pointed a handgun at Ochoa, and fired once from a distance of about 10 feet. But the gun failed to discharge.
Ochoa slipped back into the warehouse and latched the big door.
A moment or two later, he told Femenia, he saw the door handle turn. The man was trying to get inside, but the lock held.
Ochoa said he wished he could be of more help in identifying the assailant.
Years later, at Goudeau's murder trial, Ochoa compellingly identified the defendant from the witness stand.
"I will never forget those eyes, never," he said of Goudeau.
But the overall Baseline Killer case, and this December 2005 murder, in particular, didn't hinge on the typically shaky eyewitness testimony of a traumatized victim.
More relevant were the two expended .38-caliber shell casings found near the body and one unspent bullet, the one meant for Pete Ochoa.
It would take police months to link those casings to the ones recovered at other murder scenes in Phoenix.
Within a day after her murder, fingerprints identified the victim as Tina Washington.
Femenia informed one of her grown sons of her murder and asked the young man whether his mom wore jewelry. Though broken with grief, he answered without hesitation:
That would be the "mother's ring," with the names of Tina's three sons inscribed next to each of their birthstones.
Femenia later also learned that one of Tina's co-workers had tried on a new bracelet of Tina's on the day of the murder before placing it back into a ziplock sandwich bag with the ring.
Tina, the co-worker said, usually took off her jewelry and put it in the bag, so as not to call attention to it when she walked across Southern Avenue from the school to the bus stop for her ride home.
That bag would become Exhibit 29 at Mark Goudeau's trial.
But it still would be months before Femenia had any clue that Tina Washington was Mark Goudeau's first homicide victim in Phoenix.
Nor did they know that, just a few months earlier, on September 5, 2005, Goudeau had gunned down Georgia Thompson in the parking lot of her Tempe apartment complex.
Thompson was shot once in the back of her head at close range shortly after midnight. Like Tina, her shirt was pulled up and her pants were unbuttoned when the police got there. Her purse also was missing. Thompson had just exited her car after an evening out that included dinner with her boyfriend and his parents.
The inscription on her orange T-shirt read "Better Luck Next Time."
This part of the Goudeau epic also would include slipshod police work by a Tempe police detective who tearfully apologized for her mistakes at Goudeau's recent trial.
Susan Schoville was swayed in late 2005 by career Kentucky con James Mullins that he had murdered Thompson after a meeting at a Tempe bar went sour.
Yes, Mullins confessed to the slaying, and the overeager Schoville bought his story after providing him with enough information to help make his tale sound at least plausible at first blush.
In truth, though, Mullins never had even set foot in Arizona before the murder, and he was guilty — in this jurisdiction — of nothing but stupidity.