Investigators hope discovery of jewelry in forest will provide clues to human remains found nearby
Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives hope three jewel-encrusted rings and a gold necklace found near the skulls of a man and woman in the Angeles National Forest after the Station Fire may help identify the deceased and reveal more about how they died.
The skulls were found Dec. 24 and Dec. 26 in the burned-out area below the Angeles Forest Highway, near mile marker 19.
"It appears that there was some trauma to at least one of the skulls," L.A. County Sheriff's Det. John Duncan said. The trauma to the male skull could be a bullet hole, investigators said.
Duncan said investigators believe the skulls have been in the Lucas Creek area for some time, predating the Station Fire last year that consumed more than 250 square miles.
Detectives suspect the jewelry belong to one of the deceased.
"We are hoping this jewelry will be recognized by someone,” Duncan said. “The three rings seem to go together, and we believe a family member may recognize it."
Hikers discovered the first skull on Christmas Eve and alerted authorities. Forensics experts then scoured the site with the aid of a cadaver dog and sifted the soil. They uncovered the second skull Dec. 26.
After considerable examination of other bones collected during the search, coroner's forensic experts concluded the deceased were a man and a woman.
The forest on the edge of Los Angeles has long been a dumping ground for the bodies of crime victims, detectives say.
The body of Cindy Lee Hudspeth, the 10th Hillside Strangler victim, was found in the trunk of her car here in 1978. The remains of model Kimberly Pandelios, who was drowned in a mountain stream by her killer, were uncovered in 1993. Ron Levin, whose slaying lead to the demise of the infamous Billionaire Boys Club, is also believed to have been buried here.
Anyone who can identify the jewelry or provide any other clues in the recent discovery of the two skulls is asked to contact Duncan or Det. Philip Guzman at Sheriff's Homicide, (323) 890-5500.
-- Richard Winton
Photo: Rings that were found near the human remains. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department