Cold Case: 1976 romantic adventure ended in a violent death

2012-02-22T00:00:00Z 2014-10-24T09:43:15Z Cold Case: 1976 romantic adventure ended in a violent deathKimberly Matas Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 22, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Wanda Jean Morrow probably thought she was embarking on a grand, romantic adventure when she ran away with a boy in the summer of 1976.

The 15-year-old from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was on vacation that July, visiting an uncle in Washington, D.C., when she met a local boy two years her senior. They ran off together, hitchhiking across the country to Tucson.

Within two months, however, the adventure was over. On Sept. 6, 1976, a picnicker found Morrow's badly decomposed remains in Molino Basin on Mount Lemmon. The body had been there for at least a week. Morrow had been stabbed in the back a dozen times. Sheriff's investigators identified her a month later through dental records.


Morrow's case was last reviewed in 2009, but it is not currently being investigated, according to Deputy Dawn Barkman, spokeswoman for the Pima County Sheriff's Department. There were several male suspects at the time, including Morrow's travel companion, but her remains were so badly degraded that "there was nothing that could be connected with the murder that could be tested," Barkman said.


The Star will feature some of the Tucson-area violent crimes that remain unsolved - sometimes many years later.

Anyone with information is urged to call 88-CRIME. Tips also can be submitted at; or by text message at 274637, then enter tip259 plus your text message. Callers remain anonymous, and rewards may be offered.

Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at or at 573-4191 if you have been a victim of an unsolved crime or if you are related to a victim.

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