Homicide detectives hope evidence of “dental work” gathered from a hilly rugged stretch of terrain near Templin Highway will identify the person whose skull and teeth were found there.
“There was some dental work discovered, so perhaps we’ll be able to track it,” Sgt. William Cotter of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s told The Signal Monday.
Last week, surveyors found what they thought were human remains and phoned the LASD sparking a search by both homicide detectives and investigators with the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Department.
Before the week was out, investigators had gathered a human adult skull and some teeth.
Now that investigators have had a chance to scrutinize their find, they’re optimistic about discovered evidence of dental work.
“The Special Operations Recovery team of the coroner’s department collected the skull and teeth and they’re going back to the coroner’s office with them,” Cotter said, noting it might be “months” before dental forensic work can point to a victim.
The coroner participates in a state-mandated program to examine dental records and collect appropriate specimens for the identification of “John and Jane Does,” the name given each unidentified body.
As of Monday, coroner investigators have not determined the gender of the remains found last week.
Typically, they assign “John Doe” or “Jane Doe” case numbers to unidentified bodies.
Last week’s remains are being referred to at the coroner’s department as “Doe 12” which means the remains of at least 11 other people have been found in Los Angeles County so far this year.
And, while it may be months before dental forensic work reveals the identity of the person, some in Santa Clarita Valley eager for answers as they seek closure in cases that involved local people missing and presumed dead.
One woman wants to know if the remains belong to murder victim Ann Racz who disappeared in 1991.
“Could these remains be Ann’s?,” she asked in an email sent to The Signal Monday.
“Those of us who were her friends are always wondering each time remains are found,” she said. “We will all be interested in the findings of the Medical Examiner once they have been identified.”
Racz’s husband former sheriff’s sergeant John Racz was convicted in August 2007 of having murdered her. Her body was never found.
The grisly find last week was made shortly before noon Thursday by members of an environmental survey study crew who contacted law enforcement.
A resulting search of the area was called off Thursday and postponed until Friday morning due to “treacherous terrain,” LASD Deputy Trina Schrader said in a news release issued Friday.
“The remains appear to have been in the area for a long period of time,” she said.
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