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Body Found in Mountains May Be Missing Hiker


A body found over the weekend in the rugged Mt. Lukens area above Sunland-Tujunga may be that of a woman hiker who had been missing for two weeks, authorities said Sunday.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team found the severely decomposed body shortly before 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the base of a bluff near Delta Canyon, which is close to the Mt. Lukens area in Angeles National Forest, Sgt. Michael Allen said.

The search and rescue team was conducting a training exercise at an elevation of 3,200 feet in the San Gabriel Mountains, but "it turned into the real thing," Allen said. He added that the body bore no evidence of foul play.

Coroner's officials have not identified the body and are waiting for dental records, but Los Angeles Police Sgt. Jay Fry said authorities believe the dead woman to be Nita Jones, who disappeared June 27 after setting off for a trek up Mt. Lukens.

Jones, 44, was reported missing a few days later after a co-worker who was to give her a ride to work at Glenfed Insurance Services in Glendale did not find her at her Sunland-Tujunga home.

A note on her door read: "Gone to climb the mountain. Be back tonight. "

A three-day search for Jones, hampered by thick brush, proved fruitless, yielding only two empty water bottles believed to have belonged to the woman and a towel bearing her initials. All three items were found near the top of the mountain.

Searchers with four dogs given a scent from Jones' clothing combed the upper portion of the Mt. Lukens area near where the body was found but failed to find the woman's trail.

Jones' son, Dane, 21, and other relatives helped scour the area in which she was believed to have disappeared.

Family members said Jones, though an avid hiker and camper, preferred to go on day hikes and had never camped overnight on Mt. Lukens.

Authorities said Jones apparently trekked up a fire road only a few blocks from her home, taking a knapsack but no sleeping bag.

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