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Body parts found in hills are those of missing woman

The remains of Cindy Casteel-Mathieu were scattered in O.C. hills, police say. She disappeared in 2004.

August 08, 2008|Christian Berthelsen | Times Staff Writer

Human remains discovered last year in the eastern Orange County foothills were identified today as those of an Anaheim woman who went missing nearly four years ago after leaving a family pool party during an argument with her husband, police said.

Cindy Casteel-Mathieu was 42 at the time of her disappearance. The remains, discovered in September east of Aliso Viejo near Santiago Canyon and Silverado Canyon roads, were scattered in the area and not all have been recovered.

Casteel-Mathieu, who worked in the city of Anaheim's public utilities department, was last seen at a birthday party for her grandson in Buena Park on Aug. 14, 2004.

Her family and police said that she was arguing with her husband, Donald, throughout the day and that both appeared upset when they left.

Her employer and her family called police to report her missing when she did not show up for work the following Monday and they could not reach her. "To be honest with you, we all knew this would be the outcome four years ago," said Kim Gogos, Casteel-Mathieu's sister, in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. "We knew she wouldn't just walk away. We've been grieving for four years."

Sgt. Rick Martinez, a spokesman for the Anaheim Police Department, said the case has been classified as a "suspicious death" but investigators have not yet established a cause of death or whether a crime occurred.

Donald Mathieu was at one time called a "person of interest" in the case because police believed he knew something about his wife's disappearance. Martinez said Mathieu initially cooperated with the investigation but eventually stopped; police have since lost contact with him.

At the time, police said Mathieu told them that he went out for cigarettes the day after the party and that his wife was gone when he returned.

Police and family described him as an itinerant construction worker and truck driver who became a transient after Casteel-Mathieu's disappearance. Their son was placed in foster care.

In 2005, the Carol Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation, a national group that tracks missing persons, offered a $5,000 reward for information about Casteel-Mathieu. Jennifer Hicks, an office manager for the group, said Thursday that the reward expired in September 2005 without anyone coming forward.

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christian.berthelsen @latimes.com

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