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Body found in San Francisquito Canyon 1 year ago remains unidentified

Posted: April 9, 2014 5:47 p.m.
Updated: April 9, 2014 5:47 p.m.

The site where a woman's body was found dumped on San Francisquito Canyon Road a year ago is marked with a vase in her honor, placed there by Green Valley resident Berlina Kredo. Signal photo by Jim Holt

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In early 2013, a Honduras woman in her mid-20s wearing a pink T-shirt and gray sweatpants crossed the border into the United States illegally with the help of human smugglers called “coyotes.”

While crossing the border or shortly after, she became ill and eventually died, a Sheriff’s Department homicide detective said Wednesday.

One year ago Thursday, maintenance workers with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power found the woman’s body wrapped in a tarp and dumped on an embankment off San Francisquito Canyon Road near Spunky Canyon.

An investigation into the woman’s death has been going on for a year, Lt. Eddie Hernandez with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said Wednesday.

On the books she remains Jane Doe No. 23.

‘Somebody’s sister’
Green Valley resident Berlina Kredo was there at the side of the road the night Jane Doe’s body was found.

Deeply touched by the incident, she placed a vase at the site and regularly puts flowers in it for Jane Doe.

“The place where I put flowers is the same place they dump TVs,” she said. “People go by and, I guess, say, ‘Oh, here’s the spot we’re dump all our s--- that we don’t want anymore.”

“It was as if they opened the car door and booted her out, like they didn’t bother to stop,” Kredo said.

“I don’t care who it is — that’s not how you treat someone,” she said. “This is not trash. This is somebody’s sister, maybe somebody’s wife, somebody’s daughter.”

Illness and death
“She was from Honduras and came across the border with coyotes — people who bring people illegally into the country,” Hernandez said. “This individual soon became ill and actually died on them.”

Although the Santa Clarita Valley is at least 200 miles from the Mexican border, the coyotes were probably “holding or delivering people” to this area and are familiar with the Santa Clarita Valley, Hernandez said.

“They know its kind of desolate on that road,” he said of San Francisquito.

While laws were certainly broken, investigators who set out hunting for a murder found none, he said.

“We believe she died of natural causes, ... but it’s complicated.”

Although homicide detectives were never able to identify the woman, they believe from discussions they’ve had with immigration officers that they know some of her relatives in both Honduras and Texas.

“When she left Honduras there was apparently a rift in the family,” Hernandez said. “The family members in Texas were a little hesitant to come forward, thinking that it was a trick and that (immigration enforcement) is involved.

“I assured them that we’re looking into the possibility she was murdered so that they could provide enough information, but they wouldn’t provide any ID,” he said.

“We still haven’t connected all the dots.”

International help
“The coyotes probably reached out to her family saying, ‘Look, your aunt is sick’ or ‘She’s passed away, ... We’re going to leave the body by this tower on this road,’” Hernandez said.

“They went the extra mile in notifying the family,” he said. “I’m surprised the coyotes did that much for her.”

Jane Doe No. 23 had been dead for about three months before she was found, according to investigators with the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Department who described her body as “severely decomposed.”

Over the past year, coroner’s investigators expressed optimism they could identify the woman and had started working with the Guatemalan consulate in Los Angeles to contact people they believed were her relatives.

As they received more information from homicide detectives, they learned the woman was actually from Honduras. But that’s where insight into her past came to an end.

The only description they have for her is a slight woman who stood 5-foot-3-inches tall, weighed 120-pounds and had black hair. They also know she was wearing a pink T-shirt and gray sweatpants — both extra small size — white panties and no jewelry.

In May, coroner investigators said they found a man they believed was the woman’s nephew and they were waiting for dental records to confirm her identity. But that lead fizzled out.

“We do not have a next of kin,” coroner spokesman Ed Winter said Wednesday. “We’re still trying to match her with missing persons.”
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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