Friday, June 2, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge Grants Request to Exhume Child’s Body

FLORENCE, Ariz. (CN) - A Superior Court judge granted Pinal County's request to exhume the body of a 5-year-old child who is suspected of having been beaten to death nearly 35 years ago.

Emergency services workers sent to a Casa Grande residence in 1974 found Gaylon Patterson performing CPR on an unresponsive child, according to an exhumation petition filed on Nov. 4 this year by Jeffrey Sandler of the Pinal County Attorney's office. The child, Amanda Obert aka Robin Patterson, died of traumatic brain injury.

Linda and Gaylon Patterson were in the process of adopting the girl, who was a ward of the state. Though she exhibited signs of child abuse, the county stated in its petition that at the time it declined to investigate because "there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction."

"Linda Patterson is now identified as Linda Lou Harris ... alive and living in Phoenix," according to the petition. "Linda is a convicted sex offender and on lifetime probation."

The Casa Grande Police Department wants to exhume the child's body from a local cemetery to supplement a 1-page autopsy report and proceed with a criminal investigation.

The county says the child's birth mother is dead, and that Gaylon Patterson died in 1987.

"The case was rediscovered during an inventory of old cases and reopened by Detective Rick Hange of the Casa Grande Police Department," according to the filing. "There were several 8x10 photos showing numerous injuries that were obviously intentionally inflicted on the child," it states.

Judge Boyd Johnson granted the exhumation on Nov. 4, the day it was filed.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.