Partly decomposed body linked to disappearance of teenage girl

By Calvin Palmer

The partly decomposed human remains found in desert scrub in Moreno Valley, Southern California, have been identified as those of a 17-year-old girl who disappeared last week.

An autopsy today confirmed the identity of Norma Lopez, but investigators would not release a cause of death.

Lopez vanished last Thursday on her way home from a summer school class Valley View High School.

Deputies found personal items and signs of a struggle in a field the girl often used as a shortcut home. Police went door-to-door, and searchers using dogs worked the central area of Riverside County for days.

A local resident driving a tractor-mower found the body around 3:00 p.m. yesterday in a remote field about a mile south of the 60 Freeway. The remains were found in the tall grass and near a line of trees but were not otherwise concealed, said Sgt Joe Borja, a spokesman for Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Investigators have not yet identified any suspects or persons of interest.

“We do have a few leads that we’re still following up … but I wouldn’t say that we’re any closer,” Borja said.

The body was found in a region about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

Identification of the body was not possible at the scene due to the decomposition, which was probably accelerated by the recent heatwave, said Borja.

[Based on reports by the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times.]

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