The cold case death of Sadie Natasha Jennings - Carson City, Nevada - July 8, 1997

On July 8, 1997, a father named Clarence wondered where his daughter Natasha was. He had arranged to meet her, but she had not shown up. Concerned, he called his sister Sandra and asked if 'Tash' happened to be still at her house. Natasha, who lived in Southern California, was staying at her aunt Sandra's residence while visiting her and her father in Carson City, Nevada

Sandra then put down the phone and went to look for her niece inside the house. When she came upstairs she got the fright of her life. 16-year-old Natasha lay on the floor in her guest room, not breathing. There was an electric fan op top of her body. Clarence could tell from Sandra's panic upstairs that something was very wrong. When she got back on the line, she said Natasha wasn't breathing. She hung up and immediately called 911. The paramedics who soon arrived on the scene could only conclude that the girl had died.

Autopsy and Police Investigation
Pathological examination revealed no external signs of trauma. They did found traces of drugs in her nose. When investigators found a piece of plastic near her bedroom with traces of methamphetamine and cocaine on it, they suspected that Natasha may have overdosed on drugs. Forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht investigated the case and believed she may have taken a bath to cool down and died of a spasm while drying off. This scenario possibly came up because of the damp hair Natasha had when she was found. However, her family was sure that Natasha did not use drugs. An argument that was supported when it emerged that no drugs were detected in her system. Although the substance was found in her nose, it was not in her blood. Had someone put it up her nose to create a false trail? 

The autopsy further concluded that the sixteen year old had not been sexually assaulted. This was an important detail. Because a few days before the murder, Natasha had attended a party where she had drunk alcohol. After the party she said in a phone conversation with a friend that she blacked out at the party, and then was raped by a boy named Chris. The boy was interrogated by officers, but they did not believe Natasha's story and let him go. All this happened before her mysterious death.

The police were puzzled, and had no idea what had happened to the girl. Just dropping dead at the age of sixteen is very unusual. For that reason, the authorities treated the case as a homicide. However, they had so few leads that they couldn't do much.

Was Clarence working as an informant?
Natasha's mother Tammy Stelton came straight to Carson City from Southern California when she heard the bad news. There she went to investigate. She handed out many thousands of flyers and talked to people in places her daughter had recently visited. One day a woman came to her in a shopping center with new information. The lady indicated that she knew what had happened to Natasha and gave her phone number to Tammy. She seemed scared and skittish. The woman later said that Clarence, Natasha's father, was a drug informant for the local police. According to her, his cover had recently been blown, and that drug dealers had killed Natasha in retaliation.

When Tammy confronted her ex about the allegations, he was very surprised and denied being an informant. The Nevada Division of Investigators confirmed that he was not a documented informant. However, there are doubts about this story, because Tammy later received confirmation from an investigator that Clarence was an informant. It therefore remains unexplained.

Research yields nothing
The police could never figure out the reason behind the sudden death of the sixteen-year-old girl. Autopsy had found no clear cause of death, and there were no leads conclusively proving that she had been murdered. Although Tammy tried to have the case investigated all over again through the courts, it was ruled against. According to the court, the investigation had been done fair and thorough.

Tips and information
It is clear that the death of 16-year-old Natasha Jennings was full of mysteries. Although the case is more than 25 years old, her loving family members hope there is someone out there who knows more.

Is that you? Do you know anything about the death of "Tash"? Then let us hear from you now. Don't hesitate and get in touch now (anonymously) using the form below.

This goes without the interference of the police, and entirely through our editors. If you would like to remain anonymous, do not enter your name and e-mail address. We ensure that your information ends up in the right place with the appropriate cold case team. 

Please help and share this case with your socials, and follow us on Facebook.