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Ventura County

Rewards Offered for Information in Woman's Disappearance

July 18, 2001|MARGARET TALEV and HOLLY J. WOLCOTT | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Ventura County sheriff's officials announced Tuesday a $25,000 reward for information about the disappearance of Megan Barroso, a 20-year-old Moorpark woman whose bullet-riddled car was found near a local freeway overpass earlier this month.

"It's the sheriff's hope that this reward, along with other rewards, will help uncover important information leading to her whereabouts," said Eric Nishimoto, a Sheriff's Department spokesman.

The money will be paid for information that leads to finding Barroso or an arrest and conviction in the case, Nishimoto said. A smaller sum will be paid for any information that assists deputies, he said.

The Moorpark City Council plans today to consider increasing the $25,000 reward by another $10,000.

Moorpark Councilman Keith Millhouse said he proposed a city-funded reward after several residents asked how they could assist in the search for Barroso.

"There was a tremendous desire to help," Millhouse said. "Because we are a close-knit community, when anything like this happens it hits home."

A private reward fund is also being established through the Moorpark branch of First Western Bank, Millhouse said. A Web site with photographs of Barroso and details about her disappearance, http://www.meganbarroso.com, should be up within a few days, he added.

Sheriff's officials said such rewards are rarely offered but were needed in the Barroso case because detectives have few leads.

Nearly two-dozen county investigators have been working on the case since Barroso disappeared, and volunteers have been conducting daily searches of the county's mountains and canyon areas.

Barroso was last seen leaving a friend's Thousand Oaks home shortly after 2:30 a.m. July 5. Police believe she was alone in the dark green Pontiac Sunfire and on her way home when she disappeared.

A private security guard saw her damaged rental car slung over a median near a Moorpark Freeway offramp about two miles from her home. The engine was still running.

Nishimoto said people wishing to help should contact Steve Allen, a friend of the Barroso family who is coordinating volunteers. Allen can be reached at 482-4390.

Anyone with information about the crash or Barroso's disappearance is asked to call Sheriff's Sgt. Tim Lorenzen at 654-2348 or Det. Rick Barrios at 654-2355.

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