Remains found by hikers in Los Padres National Forest have been identified as the body of a 15-year-old Woodland Hills boy last seen Aug. 6, Santa Barbara County authorities said Monday.
Lt. Michael Burridge, a Sheriff's Department spokesman, said the body of Nicholas Sam Markowitz was discovered in a shallow grave Saturday. His family had reported him missing four days earlier.
An autopsy conducted by the Santa Barbara County coroner's office revealed that Nicholas died from multiple gunshot wounds, Burridge said.
Sheriff's detectives had not yet determined where the teen was killed, said Burridge, who would not say what type of weapon had been used. The department sought the public's help in solving the slaying.
"We're hoping someone may have seen him in the Santa Barbara area before his death," Burridge said.
Ten Santa Barbara detectives spent Monday in Woodland Hills talking with family members and planning the investigation with detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department's West Valley Bureau, Burridge said. LAPD officials referred questions to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.
The hikers found the grave near Lizard's Mouth Campground, about 12 miles north of Santa Barbara off Highway 154. The area is a popular daytime hiking spot that has drawn nighttime crowds of partying teens, Burridge said.
"We see a lot of kids up there drinking," Burridge said. "It's not an organized thing. It's just that you can easily access it and it's relatively close to town. But it's rural, so it's still a little bit off the main road."
The Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department can be reached at (805) 681-4150 or at its anonymous tip line, (805) 681-4171.