Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Investigators above Big Tujunga the day after Christmas

By Guy McCarthy

Two weeks ago homicide detectives released photos of three rings and a gold necklace found near two skulls discovered Dec. 24 and Dec. 26 in a burned-out mountain gulch of the Angeles National Forest.

Plucked from ashes of the Station Fire but believed to pre-date the massive blaze, the skulls and the jewelry remain an unsolved mystery, said Los Angeles County sheriff's Homicide Lt. Mike Rosson.

"There has been no identification, by DNA or other means," Rosson said today in a telephone interview.

The rings - with red, green, and black stones - appear to fit together but that hasn't shed any light on the investigation, according to Rosson.

The skulls belonged to a man and woman, according to the coroner. The jewelry may have belonged to one or both of them.

The first skull was found Christmas Eve by hikers in a burned-out draw below the Angeles Forest (N3) Highway, near mile marker 19.36, homicide detectives said. The skull had an apparent bullet hole in it.

Deputies from the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station responded to the site that day and secured the area. The draw is part of the Lucas Creek drainage, which feeds Big Tujunga Canyon.

On Dec. 26, about a dozen forensic specialists, coroner's investigators and homicide detectives returned to dig and sift through dirt, rocks and debris in the gully.

Using soft-bristle brushes to excavate, wood-framed screens to sift through material, and a dog trained at sniffing out human remains, they found the second skull close to where the first was located.

The second skull had signs of trauma, said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Department.

The gender of each set of remains was determined by examination of other bones collected in the steep, fire-denuded gulch, Coroner's Investigator Jerry McKibben said.

The skull with the apparent bullet hole belonged to a man and the second skull belonged to a woman, McKibben said.

At least one of the skulls was partly burned but they appeared to pre-date the Station Fire, which burned 250 square miles of the Angeles National Forest in September and August.

Detectives have not said when the rings and necklace were discovered, only that they were found where the skulls and other remains were located.

Rosson urged anyone with information to call Detective Philip Guzman or Detective John Duncan at (323) 890-5500.


Ring photo from Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Dec. 26 photo by Guy McCarthy.

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