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2011 teen car-theft suspect identified through DNA in N. California

September 19, 2013|By Joseph Serna

The death of a 15-year-old suspected car thief who vanished during a police pursuit in 2011 has been confirmed after authorities successfully matched his DNA to a jawbone found along a riverbed in Northern California, officials said.

Cody Edward Conoboy, of Willow Creek, disappeared Jan. 9, 2011, when he and two others bailed from a stolen car in Hoopa, a small town about 60 miles east of Eureka.

The vehicle had been reported stolen and soon after it was spotted by a Humboldt County sheriff’s deputy driving in the opposite direction, the stolen car’s driver lost control and it rolled down the side of Highway 96.

One of the passengers was found clinging to a tree along the steep embankment. Another was found hours later walking down the highway. But Conoboy was never located.

Evidence indicated Conoboy jumped off a bridge into the Trinity River, said Del Norte Sheriff’s Department operations commander Tim Athey. He was never seen again and presumed dead.

Nine months later, a jawbone was found about 100 miles north at the mouth of the Klamath River. Authorities handed it over to a Yurok tribe archaeologist, thinking it might have been a bone from one of the old Indian burial grounds that line the Klamath, Athey said.

Using DNA of Conoboy the state Department of Justice had from a previous arrest, authorities were able to match it to the jawbone, Athey said.

“The case is closed from our end,” he said. “I’m pretty sure it’s closed from Humboldt’s side too.” 

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joseph.serna@latimes.com

@josephserna

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