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DNA helps identify woman found buried in SoCal desert in 1994; “mystery” remains unsolved

January 4, 2022

A woman found dead and partially buried in the Southern California desert nearly three decades ago has been identified after her DNA was matched with one of her surviving children, prosecutors said. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday that the remains belonged to Patricia Cavallaro, 57, of Bellflower.

“Without the use of forensic genealogy, this victim may have never been identified,” the DA’s office said in a statement.

Senior Investigator Mike Thompson told the Desert Sun that the lack of evidence near where the woman was found indicated she had likely been killed elsewhere and buried in the desert. Sheriff’s deputies found the remains on Oct. 24, 1994, near the community of Thousand Palms.