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Missing woman found?

Whittier police, seeking the O.C. resident, discover a decomposed body a mile from where her possessions were scattered on a trail.

January 25, 2007|Garrett Therolf and Mai Tran | Times Staff Writers

A cadaver dog led Whittier police Wednesday to a badly decomposed body in Turnbull Canyon, about a mile from where the belongings of a missing 38-year-old woman were found on a hiking trail this month.

Amber Lee Hill, a Stanton resident, disappeared Jan. 9 after working an overnight shift at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Downey.

Police said the body was so badly decomposed that they could not identify its sex, but the victim wore a work uniform that matched what Hill was believed to be wearing when she vanished.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office is in the process of identifying the body.

The body was found at 12:15 p.m., about 25 feet down a steep embankment, shortly after authorities widened the search for Hill. On Jan. 9, authorities found Hill's wallet, car registration and other belongings scattered along the hiking trail.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday January 30, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 55 words Type of Material: Correction
Missing woman: A story in Thursday's California section misidentified the area where police found the body of Amber Lee Hill of Stanton. The article said the body was found in Turnbull Canyon. It was found near there. A map accompanying the article mislabeled Firestone Boulevard as the 105 Freeway and Imperial Highway as Imperial Avenue.

Police said the case was being investigated as a homicide, although they had no suspects. They said the possibility of an accidental death had not been ruled out.

Police Det. Diana Salazar said investigators did not know why Hill was in the area.

On Tuesday, police found Hill's 2001 Dodge Stratus in a La Palma parking lot, about eight miles from where the body was discovered. They found dried blood and a pair of tennis shoes in the trunk.

Hill's boyfriend, 32-year-old Antonio King of Stanton, said he believed the body was Hill's.

"I'm just trying to figure out why someone would do this to her," King said. "She had a great personality. She was very caring."

King said he met Hill at work nine months ago. Soon after they met, they began dating and moved into a town home together. They planned to marry after Hill's divorce became final, King said.

King said that when he awoke Jan. 9 at 7:30 a.m., Hill wasn't in bed. He walked out to the hallway, where he met Hill's stepdaughter, Katie, who asked for Hill to take her to school.

King drove the girl instead. When he returned home, he called Hill's cellphone but she didn't answer.

"I thought she was still working and couldn't answer," he said.

He drove to the bottling plant and looked for her car, which was not in the parking lot, he said. He then drove home and called police.

"It's all strange and out of the ordinary for her to disappear like that," he said.

King said he has talked with police several times.

"I'm just trying to hang in there," he said. "There's nothing I can do to bring her back."

garrett.therolf@latimes.com

mai.tran@latimes.com

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