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Remains Believed to Be Missing Guitarist Found


Human remains found at the bottom of a Malibu canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains are likely those of missing computer entrepreneur Philip "Taylor" Kramer, the former bassist for the rock group Iron Butterfly who disappeared more than four years ago, authorities said Sunday.

The grim discovery was made Saturday afternoon by two hikers who were shooting photographs of abandoned vehicles in a canyon about 1.5 miles east of Pacific Coast Highway off Decker Canyon Road, sheriff's deputies said. The remains were found inside Kramer's 1993 green Ford Aerostar van.

Hiker Walter Lockwood of Hollywood was the first to spot the remains, deputies said.

"He looked inside the vehicle and saw human bones and checked the area around it and found a human skull," said sheriff's Sgt. Jon Jones.

Dental records will be used to make a positive identification, but authorities are certain it's Kramer, Jones said.

Kramer, who lived in nearby Thousand Oaks, was last heard from Feb. 12, 1995, when he called his wife and a friend on his cell phone while driving home from Los Angeles International Airport.

Born in 1952, Kramer joined Iron Butterfly when the band reformed in 1975. The group is probably best known for its 1969 album "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," which was a top-10 record for 81 weeks.

Ventura County sheriff's deputies went to Kramer's home in Thousand Oaks Sunday night to talk to his wife, who along with Kramer's parents and sister have held out hope that he might be alive.

A man who answered the door at Kramer's home late Sunday said Kramer's wife, Jennifer Kramer, had just been notified of the discovery and was too distraught to comment.

Four members of the Sheriff's Department rescue team were lowered from a helicopter to reach the wreckage, authorities said.

Blankstein is a Times staff writer, Wolcott is a Times Community News reporter.

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