Woman found dead, naked in the desert after mysterious car crash and puzzling 911 call


Amanda Nenigar appears in two photos

Amanda Nenigar appears in two photos (Blythe Police Department)

Amanda Nenigar was only 26 years old when she disappeared late February in California. Over the weekend, her dead body was found, nude, underneath a tree in a remote Arizona desert.

A series of additional oddities plagues the case.

Nenigar was last seen alive in Blythe, California, a medium-sized city adjacent to the Colorado River and Arizona border. She was reported missing on Feb. 28, authorities say. The day before that, she called 911 after getting her car stuck in a ditch. The call went to dispatchers in California, while she was stuck in Arizona — delaying the response.

“What are you surrounded with?” a dispatcher asks in the emergency call audio obtained by independent Phoenix-based TV station KTVK. “Do you see just fields? Is that all you see?”

Nenigar replies: “Well, I’m like kind of in a valley. Yeah there’s just a lot of mountains.”

A resident of California, Nenigar regularly made the short journey across the Arizona border into La Paz County to visit family members. But on that day, something went awry along her well-traveled road.

“But I climbed to like a high mountain and I’m wearing pink,” Nenigar tells the California Highway Patrol.

“OK, so you’re on Highway 78, you think?” the dispatcher asks. “And then what would be the nearest cross streets?”

“I’m not sure,” Nenigar replies. “I see a field.”

“I’m trying to get a location on you but I’m not getting one,” the dispatcher tells the ill-fated woman.

At the time, Nenigar was headed toward Palm Springs, she told the El Centro station of the California Highway Patrol.

She never made it.

On March 7, deputies in La Paz County found her car in the Sonoran desert near the barely-populated census-designated place of Cibola in the Grand Canyon State — but something was clearly amiss.

“The rear end of the vehicle was on a large boulder,” La Paz County Sheriff William Ponce told KTVK. “When you have a vehicle that’s abandoned and you don’t have kind of inkling where the person has gone or anything, it all seems very odd to us and it’s very concerning.”

Over three weeks would pass until the woman’s body was finally found by search and rescue — without any clothes on and under a tree roughly 1.5 miles away from where her car had been discovered.

“Late Friday evening Amanda Nenigar was located deceased,” the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office said in a post on Facebook. “The family has been notified and issued a statement requesting privacy and thanked the public for their assistance in trying to locate Amanda.”

In comments to KTVK, Ponce said investigators found her clothes nearby and suspect that Nenigar may have been trying to lower her body temperature before she eventually died of exposure.

“This is still an active investigation and a pending autopsy will determine the cause of death,” the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office said in a later post. “Updates will be released to the public through proper news channels and this page when deemed appropriate.”

Nenigar found in an advanced state of decomposition and had presumably been dead for quite some time when her body was found, the sheriff said. She was identified by a rose tattoo on her right hand.

“Time is critical for us trying to find someone alive,” Ponce told KTVK. “Unfortunately, this is how we ended up in this situation. We’re trying to back track on information that wasn’t coming fast enough. Had we gotten that much sooner, I think we could’ve located her alive and been able to bring her home.”

Nenigar’s family is sad, puzzled and angry.

“I don’t understand how they didn’t find her. I’m still in shock,” Amanda’s sister, Marissa Nenigar, told KTVK. “I’m just really numb, upset, and mad.”

According to the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office, California authorities were confused to a fatal degree by the descriptions Nenigar gave and eventually searched for her along Highway 95 — some 30 to 40 miles away from where she actually was. Arizona authorities only belatedly became aware of that call — making the sad discovery using those same descriptions.

That snafu may have cost her her life.

“Who knows what she went through, suffering for that many days out there alone,” the deceased woman’s sister told the outlet. “I just don’t understand why she was naked. That’s so crazy. Whoever that dispatcher was, he failed my sister horribly, horribly.”

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *