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Bones in Yard Prove to Be Animals' : Investigation: New remains unearthed at home where dismembered human skeleton was found turn out to be those of a horse and a chicken.

May 14, 1994|ERIC MALNIC and NORA ZAMICHOW | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Swimming pool excavators unearthed more skeletal remains in the back yard of a San Marino home Friday, but this time the victim was probably a horse.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said the latest find was made shortly before noon Friday, just a few hours after detectives had cleared the site and allowed a resumption of the pool construction work behind the spacious home on Lorain Road.

Last week, contractor Jose Perez dug up what investigators said were three plastic bags containing the bones of a single adult human. Detectives said the victim "may have been a previous resident missing since 1985."

San Marino police said there actually were two residents of the Lorain road home on whom missing person reports were filed in 1985--Jonathan Sohus and his wife, Linda Sohus, both in their late 20s.

So it did not come as that great a surprise when the Sheriff's Department announced Friday that a second set of skeletal remains "that appear to be human" had been found. Homicide investigators were dispatched to the scene, followed, as usual, by news reporters and a crowd of curious neighbors.

When coroner's deputies got there, they said the latest victim appeared to be equine. The unearthed bone, they said, was probably a leg bone from a horse. Further digging later turned up a few chicken bones, deputies said.

Sheriff's Lt. Raymond H. Peavy said the the Sohus family "had a habit of barbecuing and burying trash in the back yard."

That explains the chicken, and maybe even the horse, but it does little to unravel the mystery of the missing couple and the identity of the human remains found last week.

The coroner's office said Friday that examination by anthropologists has shown that the skeleton was that of a single victim, an adult male. Investigators said it is hoped that dental records will soon reveal whether the adult male was Jonathan Sohus.

Even if the victim does turn out to be him, the whereabouts of his wife will remain a mystery.

The missing person reports were filed by Jonathan's adoptive mother, Ruth (DiDi) Sohus, who lived with him and his wife, Linda, in the Lorain Road home at the time of their disappearance. Ruth Sohus told police that the couple left on a trip to Europe and simply vanished.

Ruth Sohus died several years ago.

Ruth's last husband, Bob Sohus--who moved out and divorced her several years before the couple vanished--said earlier this week that police questioned him extensively about the disappearance and about his former wife, but he was unable to provide much information.

"They asked me if I thought she could have done it," Bob Sohus said. "I told them yes.

"Jonathan taking off (on the trip to Europe) was a big rejection in her mind," Bob Sohus said. "And she couldn't stand rejection."

Sohus said police also asked him about a young man who was renting an apartment at the back of the Lorain Road home when the couple disappeared.

He said he did not know the man, but others questioned by police said officers told them that the man, thought to have been a student at Pasadena City College, had used several aliases and had been in trouble with the law. They said officers told them they do not know where the man is.

Detectives said the current residents of the Lorain Road property--Ray Parada and his wife--are not suspects in the case. The Paradas moved in when Ruth Sohus sold the house, a few months after the couple disappeared.

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