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Body parts at treatment plants probably from same woman, police say

October 28, 2013|By Richard Winton

The upper torso of a woman found Monday in a San Gabriel Valley water treatment plant is believed to match a pelvis and legs found 30 miles away at another sanitation plant, sheriff's detectives said.

Detectives are treating the woman's death as a homicide, said Lt. Mike Rosson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Authorities believe the body entered the sanitation system somewhere in the San Gabriel Valley. Investigators recovered more body parts Monday afternoon but were still trying to locate a missing arm of the woman, who they believe is Latina.

"Anything that comes into the Los Angeles water plant must move through a 17-inch line before going through a central pump. So you imagine what kind of damage to a person's body would happen," Rosson said.

Craig Harvey, chief of the coroner's office, said a human torso was found Monday at the San Jose Creek Water Reclamation Plant on Workman Mill Road in unincorporated Bassett near Whittier.

"We'll examine the remains and use DNA if necessary to see if they are connected," Harvey said.

Harvey noted that bodies and other human remains do occasionally turn up in the sanitation systems.

Don Avila, a spokesman for the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, said the two plants are interconnected. Sewage pipes as large as 12 feet in diameter connect seven facilities across the region.

The pelvis and legs were recovered Saturday about 8 a.m. by an employee, who notified authorities about the remains at the Joint Water Pollution Control Plant in the 24500 block of South Figueroa Street in Carson.

They were recovered from a bin that separates solid materials and debris from liquid, officials said.

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richard.witon@latimes.com

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