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Little of skeleton from San Marino case was saved

August 15, 2008|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

Much of a skeleton found buried in a San Marino backyard in 1994 was disposed of by the L.A. County coroner's office a decade ago.

But detectives believe the parts that remain will provide an identification if they can find a DNA or dental match.

Craig Harvey, the coroner's chief of operations, said all remains except for a part of the skull were disposed of in 1995, as was common practice at the time. He said a portion of the skull was kept as a specimen for technical research.

The rest of the remains were cremated and interred because the body identity remained unknown and there isn't enough space at the coroner's office to hold bodies indefinitely, he said.

No request was made at the time to preserve the bones, Harvey said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials, who are investigating the San Marino case, said Thursday that the portion of the skull that remains is plenty of evidence.

"Detectives believe it has more than enough properties to provide the information they are seeking," said Steve Whitmore, a department spokesman.

The remains are not the only evidence in the case. Officials announced Wednesday that they are testing a large bloodstain that detectives discovered in the couple's guesthouse in 1994, when the remains were dug up in the backyard.

Authorities have described a man now under arrest on unrelated kidnapping charges in Boston as a "person of interest" in the disappearance and suspected killings of Jonathan and Linda Sohus, who were last seen in 1985.

Sheriff's detectives contend that the man, Clark Rockefeller, used to be known as Christopher Chichester and lived in the couple's guesthouse at the time they disappeared.

Detectives have long believed the remains are those of Jonathan Sohus. But they have been hampered by the fact that Sohus was adopted, and, so far, investigators have not been able to match the DNA to a relative to determine the skeleton's identity.

Authorities said Wednesday that they will complete a new round of DNA tests on the remains.

--

richard.winton@latimes.com

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