1983 kids discovered her. O.C. police hope a new photo may solve a cold case

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department last week released a new rendering of a possible homicide victim whose remains were found in 1983.

The remains were discovered when children playing in a culvert near the area of Canada and Old Trabuco roads in Lake Forest stumbled upon a human skull.

“An excavation was performed and approximately 70% of a female’s human remains were discovered,” the sheriff’s department said in a release. “Although the official cause of death is listed as undetermined, homicide is suspected.”

The release says that “based on preliminary anthropological analysis,” it is believed the woman was 18 to 24 years old, Black or of mixed race, between 5 foot 3 and 5 foot 6 in height, with “a slight build.”

The new rendering of what the woman may have looked like, produced by forensic artist Carl Koppelman based on the available evidence, includes depictions of what she might have been wearing at the time of her death.

The department worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2019 to produce a black-and-white, forensic rendering using a scan of the remains to determine facial features.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2019 to produce initial renderings of the victim.

(National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

“The image was widely circulated, however, no new information was developed,” the department said.

The updated rendering is in color and depicts the woman with longer hair and a distinctive dental feature. The department said it hopes the rendering will lead to her identification and spur developments in the investigation, which has been cold for years.

Investigators initially compared the remains to descriptions of several missing persons but were unsuccessful at finding a match.

The investigation was rekindled in 2018, when convicted serial killer Samuel Little admitted to killing 93 people between 1970 and 2005, including dozens in California, and confessed to targeting Black women. But investigators did not find a link between Little and the unidentified woman.

The department asked anyone who recognizes the woman to contact Investigator Bob Taft at 714-647-7045 or email coldcase@ocsheriff.gov.

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