“TUCSON, Ariz. — On Oct. 3, 2012, Pima County’s deputy chief medical examiner and two assistants peeled open a flat white vinyl body bag. The corpse inside was recovered in Cochise County, part of the hot Arizona desert lands also known as the Corridor of Death. According to the autopsy report, the 24-year-old man with braided hair was of African descent, with his “natural” teeth in good condition.
Despite having been stored in a freezer since its recovery just a few days earlier, the body had already begun to degrade. The man’s hands were mummified from the sun; maggots infested his flesh.
Typically, such a body would be nearly impossible to identify, but the hardened, leathery skin across his torso, forearms and biceps provided an inked history. His upper right arm was tattooed with spangled stars, a backdrop for the name Kiara. His right arm read, “Live For Everything, Die For Nothing,” and his upper left read “New York” and “Allan 12-26-09.” Finally, the name Betty curled across both forearms.
The body arrived clothed, with belongings: a gray baseball cap, an American flag bandana, white pants with a matching white belt, a black compass, one orange lighter and two tubes of ChapStick. Two thumb drives, each crammed with music. A knife case with no knife. Medical examiners entered each item into an electronic database.
In one pocket, the man had carried a handwritten letter, addressed to him in bright red ink. “Allan … From that first day, I loved you, I love you, and I will keep loving you.… ”
Tucked neatly into the front pocket was a Honduran identification card: Allan Modesto Martinez Alvarez, born June 27, 1988.”
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