Skeletal human remains discovered near the Angeles Crest Highway in the Angeles National Forest Wednesday have led investigators to look anew at the disappearance of a person reported missing two years ago, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The remains were found near a vehicle that had plunged off the side of the highway and down a steep ravine 17 miles from La Canada. Vegetation around the car indicated it had been there some time, said Sheriff's Homicide Lt. Steve Jauch.
"By running the VIN, we learned that the vehicle is associated to a missing person investigation out of Los Angeles Police Department from several years ago," Lt. Jauch said. He emphasized that the skeletal remains have not yet been identified, and may not be for several weeks.
Discovery of fresh skid marks pointed toward the edge of a turnout had prompted the search of the area beginning Tuesday. Late in the day, crews hiking into the ravine found the vehicle, and returning Wednesday morning they discovered the skeletal remains.
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The skid marks, investigators determined, came from a recent close call, and not from the vehicle found. The circumstances of it going into the ravine remain unclear.
"We're going to have to do a real biopsy of that scene to see if we can figure out how this happened, whether it's a criminal investigation, a non-criminal death. And certainly it's going to be a while before we're able to identify the victim," Jauch said.
For investigative purposes, the area was secured and probed as a crime scene, though it's not yet known if the death resulted from homicide or something else, Jauch said.
At this point, Jauch is withholding the name of the person who went missing. He said family members would be notified of the discovery on Angeles Crest.
"Ultimately we want to talk to the detective that handled the missing case from the Los Angeles Police Department, and go into detail as to what the circumstances were surrounding that disappearance. But again, right now, we don't even know if the human remains found near that vehicle are related necessarily to that missing person case," Jauch said.