Alice Herrera is the alias used by Mariana Wallace, a previously unknown homeless girl who was a murder victim in Jane Doe 38. She was drowned and her body found stuffed in the trash. The Major Crimes squad investigated her death but were unable to identify her, getting the name "Alice Herrera" from her library card. She also went by the name Jesse at a Las Vegas homeless shelter. She has a younger sister named Paloma and an older brother named Gustavo, or Gus. Rusty Beck, an aspiring journalist, began an effort to identify her with his search being the subject of his YouTube blog Identity. Rusty succeeded in identifying Marianna and returning her body to her brother. Marianna was later given a proper burial thanks to Rusty's efforts.
Marianna was living on the streets of Los Angeles and got a job as a housekeeper at Joanna Cass' house where she did a good job and wanted to go to beauty school. According to the director of a homeless shelter, she was good at doing people's hair and could've succeeded in that profession. One day, she got a ride to her job from Justine Pinkman and Slider and Slider demanded that she help him rob the Cass' house. Marianna refused and Slider drowned her in the pool and stuffed her in the trash, destroying her cellphone as well. The squad are able to arrest Pinkman and Slider who confesses, but neither knows who Marianna really is with Slider having lied to Pinkman about them being related due to her jealousy towards Marianna. While they get a confession, Slider refuses to accept a deal and her case is going to trial with Slider now claiming he only told the police what they wanted to hear and Pinkman murdered Marianna. As they couldn't identify her, she is labeled as Jane Doe #38 and according to Julio Sanchez, if her body isn't claimed within a year, she will be cremated with all the other Jane and John Does. The squad is upset that they are unable to identify her, but their job legally ends when they catch the killer and they aren't allowed to investigate any further. They hope that Marianna's murder trial will help identify her and permanently hang her picture on their murder board as a reminder as well as organizing a small memorial service attended by the squad, DDA Hobbs and Dr. Morales.
Before having to put the case to rest, they manage to learn a few things about her: she's about fifteen years old and she lived briefly in a homeless shelter near Las Vegas for a time under the name Jesse before she left after an unknown man visited. While they suspected it was Slider, he tells them he's never been to Las Vegas and denies this. She likes to draw a bird everywhere including on her sneakers and tent though they don't know why, she has a picture of herself with a much younger girl at possibly the St. Louis Arch. She may be from an M state, possibly Maryland as a linguist identified her accent from a video recording as being Virginia Piedmont which includes Southern Maryland. Whoever she is, it also seems that no one is looking for her as she doesn't match any missing persons they could find that has her description.
After months of her remaining unidentified, Rusty Beck, an aspiring journalist and Captain Sharon Raydor's adopted son decides to take up the case and try to identify her at Buzz Watson's suggestion when he's looking for a story. Being formerly homeless himself, the case hits close to home for Rusty as like Marianna, if he'd disappeared on the streets, no one would've been looking for him and he could've become a John Doe. Rusty begins posting his efforts on a video blog called Identity on YouTube and makes some progress in his efforts: he learns from Slider that the bird reminds Marianna of her sister who is probably the girl in the picture with her and her name is Paloma as it was Marianna's security question for her cellphone account. As "Paloma" is Spanish for "dove", the bird itself is likely a dove.
Dr. Morales also tells Rusty that his autopsy reveals that Marianna had several teeth replaced and they were good replacements too and she is mixed race, having one Caucasian and one Latino parent. Morales also believes that Marianna was abused when she was about thirteen from cigarette burn marks and that she was later removed to some kind of foster care where she received better medical treatment. The autopsy also reveals that Marianna was from some place colder than California, she was a virgin and she didn't do drugs, took good care of her fingernails and gums and had her tonsils out when she was about four or five.
Rusty's efforts later lead him to her cellphone number and he is able to access her voicemail after figuring out her password. This leads to a possible clue: a voicemail from the man who visited her in Las Vegas, causing her to run away. The message indicates that the man knows who she really is as he knew Marianna wasn't her real name and about her sister, Paloma. He wasn't able to leave any more messages afterwards as her message box was full, but Rusty deleted a few of her old messages and left a new outgoing one, asking anyone looking for "Alice" to call him in hopes the man will call back and help him figure out who she is. The man eventually called back and left a message, identifying himself as Gustavo Wallace. In his message, he shows that he knows Marianna and her sister Paloma and is worried about them and that he doesn't know that she's dead. While he wants to meet with Rusty to discuss Marianna, Rusty decided to find out more about him before setting up such a meeting even though Gustavo could be the key to Marianna's identity. Using a background check, Rusty discovers that Gustavo, who identifies himself as Marianna's older brother, has a criminal record including an assault with a deadly weapons charge. Rusty is suspicious that he may have had something to do with Marianna's burns and missing teeth given her running away from the shelter where she was safe and had everything she needed to survive to live on the streets of LA which is a very difficult and terrible life after learning that he was looking for her, apparently seeing the streets as the lesser of two evils. However, Rusty still intended to meet with Gustavo in a safe place as he is his best chance of discovering Marianna's identity before she is cremated.
Rusty eventually meets with Gustavo who identifies Alice as Marianna Wallace, his younger sister. Their father had died when Gustavo was fifteen and his mother started hanging out with a terrible guy named Greg who tortured both Gustavo and Marianna. Gustavo ran off as soon as he could, joining the Army and going to Afghanistan, but when he went looking for his family, they were gone. Marianna had wanted Gustavo to stay and protect her and was upset by his leaving and couldn't forgive him for it which is why she'd been avoiding him for so long. Gustavo had been looking for her and Paloma in hopes of reconnecting with them and had no idea Marianna was dead. After the meeting, Rusty took Gustavo to meet his mother, Captain Sharon Raydor so she could inform him of Marianna's death.
Gustavo, or Gus as he prefers, also informs Rusty of a few details of Marianna's life as Rusty takes him to meet with Raydor: Marianna was born on February 16th, 1999 in Washington, DC and was thus fifteen when she died as was believed. Marianna's grandfather had owned two hair salons and her father worked at one. Marianna always enjoyed watching the customers hair getting cut which is where her interest in being a hair stylist likely came from. When Marianna was eight, her father and grandfather died in a car accident which is what led to her mother getting her new boyfriend who tormented Marianna and her siblings.
As Marianna's past will be a part of her trial, DDA Hobbs tries to make a deal with Gus to testify, but he asks for Paloma in return. Hobbs worries about why Marianna would run from her brother and finally gets him to explain that when he returned from the Army, he wanted to put his family back together despite their mother's terrible boyfriend now being their step-father. Marianna feared that and ran off even though Gus backed down on wanting to put the family back together. In return for his help, Lieutenant Andy Flynn offers to unofficially search for Paloma whose location is unknown as if she is officially found, she will either be returned to her mother and step-father or placed in foster care in Las Vegas with Gus' abuse allegations. Gus agrees to this with Rusty's encouragement and Flynn begins a search for Paloma.
Rusty is able to secure an interview with Gus who explains much of Marianna's past and what led her to living on the streets of Los Angeles: by the time Gus returned from serving in Afghanistan, their step-father had moved the family to Las Vegas and into a not-so nice apartment, sharing one bedroom. Before their father and grandfather had died, the family wasn't well off but they did good enough with the hair salons they had in Washington, DC and Baltimore. After their deaths, Gus and Marianna's mother tried to keep up the business, but didn't have the skills to do so. Their mother met her future husband who was supposed to help, but instead ran through all of their money and sold the business and house as well as abusing the siblings. While Gus was gone, Marianna's step-father threw her into a stair railing, knocking out some of her teeth. Afterwards, their mother dropped Marianna and Paloma off at a church for rehoming. The people at the church took care of Marianna and Paloma, getting them medical treatment for their abuse and finding them new homes. However to do that, the church had to separate Marianna and Paloma temporarily. One day Paloma disappeared and all Marianna knew was that the woman she was staying with took a bunch of kids to Los Angeles County. Marianna had run away to Los Angeles in hopes of finding her missing sister who meant the world to her. While living on the streets, Marianna never committed crimes, did drugs or sold herself on the streets for money.
After a search, Flynn locates Paloma in a good foster home that wants to adopt her. While Gus wants to see her, as part of his deal he can't until she's 18 when his presence in her life won't threaten the new life she has built for herself. While Gus finds it unfair, Rusty suggests that it is what Marianna would want given how deeply she loved her sister: a chance for Paloma to live a new life where she is safe and happy. Marianna is finally laid to rest in a Los Angeles cemetery with her funeral attended by the Major Crimes squad, Rusty and her brother. Rusty is left upset that while his actions resulted in her being identified and getting a real burial, he can't tell her that her sister has been found and is okay or that her brother is with her too. He also is upset that he can't tell Marianna how much she means to him. Sharon Raydor suggests that for now he can spread Marianna's story to others and that he return one day with Paloma to tell Marianna everything.