Medical examiners

Dr. Laura Fulginiti, a forensic anthropologist for the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office, and Dr. John Piakis, a forensic dentist for the medical examiner’s office, discuss the case of an unidentified slaying victim who was named and exhumed from Twin Buttes Cemetery in Tempe on Tuesday.

Mike Sakal

A 48-year-old man who was buried as a John Doe in Tempe’s cemetery for the indigent for nearly 25 years has been identified.

Through DNA and matching fingerprints of the deceased in a national FBI database, the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office and Arizona Department of Public Safety detectives positively identified the man as Antonio Rodriquez-Noyola.

Rodriquez-Noyola was struck and killed by a motor vehicle about 2 a.m. on May 3, 1986, while walking across the eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 near Warner Road in Ahwatukee Foothills, but never was identified, according to information from DPS. The motorist who struck him stopped and was not charged criminally, a DPS news release said.

It was not immediately known when Rodriquez-Noyola’s body was exhumed from the cemetery, but it will be reinterred there for his family to recover.

Since the beginning of this year, the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office has identified five people who previously were buried without anyone knowing who they were.

In Arizona, there currently are 735 unidentified deaths, with 202 of them being in Maricopa County alone, according to information from the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office. Of those, up to 30 percent of the county’s unidentified deaths are from the East Valley, according to information from the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office.

With the help of an ongoing $138,000 federal grant received by the county through the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission and National Institute of Justice to fund research for unidentified deaths, the medical examiner’s office has exhumed 24 bodies since September and has identified five of them. The office also has leads on two more unidentified deaths, including a man believed to be from Chandler who was killed in a motorcycle crash in the late 1980s.

On Tuesday at Sunwest Funeral Home and Cemetery in El Mirage, graveside services and a proper burial were held for 16-year-old Shannon Aumock, a chronic runaway who had lived in numerous foster and group homes before she was found strangled to death in a pile of trash near North 26th Street and Deer Valley Road north Phoenix on May 28, 1992. Aumock’s body was exhumed on March 22 after a positive identification was made on her through matching DNA from her biological mother, who still lived in the Valley, and through dental records examined by a forensic dentist for the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Aumock’s death remains unsolved, and if anyone has any information about her death, they can call the Phoenix Police Department’s Violent Crimes Bureau at (602) 262-6141 or Silent Witness at (480) 948-6377.

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