Homicide Victim Has Been Found

Effort's to locate Sandra Pagniano, involved a large number of YCSO personnel and included search and rescue volunteers from the Yavapai County Search and Rescue Team (YCSRT) and Jeep Posse. Based on evidence gathered by detectives over the last few days, search teams focused on several large land areas north west of the victim’s home. The suspect continued to deny any knowledge of her whereabouts. As a result, ground search efforts and flyovers by the Rescue 1 helicopter in these target areas was based solely on evidence and investigative work by YCSO detectives. 

Search teams were deployed to a remote section of land set back off Fair Oaks Road, several miles west of Williamson Valley Road, Prescott. During a grid search of the area, a YCSRT member of the Search Dog Unit noticed apparent man made tool marks in the sandy soil of a dry riverbed and deployed his cadaver trained detection  K9 over the site. The dog alerted and detectives were notified. After examining the soil, detectives began slowly digging until Sandra’s body was discovered around noon. 

The area around the site was secured and evidence technicians were called in to assist with the dig. As part of the forensic work, any soil/sand around her body was carefully removed and sifted for evidence by detectives. The work continued throughout the afternoon until her body could be removed and released to the Medical Examiner for the pending autopsy. Cause of death awaits the Medical Examiner report. 

Along with the YCSO Evidence Team, members of the DPS Crime Lab also arrived to assist with the investigation and complied with our request to prioritize the evidence analysis in this case. YCSO also thanks the involvement of County Attorney Investigators who assisted throughout the case work. 

While on site, Sheriff Mascher commended the efforts of his staff and dedicated volunteers – see attached photo (Sheriff in blue jeans and blue shirt facing searchers).  As stated yesterday, YCSO could not have completed this large search effort in such a compressed timeframe without our search teams. 

Detectives are not releasing further investigation details as they continue to document the work done so far and necessary follow-up for pending County Attorney review.  

Suspect David Pagniano remains in-custody on a 2 million dollar bond.  

YCSO thanks all who called regarding this case and those with concern for Sandra’s children. They are in good care. We again express our condolences to Sandra’s family and friends on her tragic death.