In 1983, children in California discovered the skull of a victim with a unique gold tooth. Finally she was identified.

Officials say the remains of a victim whose skull was found by children in a Southern California town in 1983 have been identified 41 years after they were first discovered.

Orange County Sheriff’s Department He identified the victim Friday as Maritza Klein Grimmett, a Panamanian who immigrated to the United States in the late 1970s. Grimmett was 20 years old when he disappeared, authorities said in a news release. The investigation used DNA analysis of Grimmett’s remains, which helped investigators identify relatives.

After children discovered Grimmett’s skull while playing in an area of ‚Äč‚ÄčLake Forest, 43 miles southeast of Los Angeles, 70% of his remains were exhumed from the ground.

Preliminary anthropometric examination revealed the victim to be a black or mixed-race female, aged 18-24, with a slight build and distinctive gold teeth. But for decades to come, authorities were unable to identify the woman.

Maritza Klein Grimmett

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In 2022, a DNA sample was sent from Grimmett’s remains Other laboratories, a Texas-based forensic team, the sheriff’s department said. DNA extraction and testing was funded by the Missing Persons Program at the US Department of Justice. Authorities later traced “a direct family line” to Grimmett and contacted one of his distant relatives in 2023, they said.

The sheriff’s department said the relative suggested that the findings of the forensic investigation be posted on a Facebook group focused on missing women from the 1970s and 1980s. A month after the findings were released, a woman approached investigators and said she believed she was the victim’s missing mother.

Forensic renderings of Jane Doe in 2022.

Orange County Sheriff’s Department


Relatives later submitted DNA samples to authorities, who identified the victim.

In the summer of 1978, Grimmett married a U.S. Marine and gave birth to a daughter, officials said. After the family lived in Ohio and Tennessee, the couple began divorce proceedings in 1979. Grimmett told her sister she was moving to California, but her family never heard from her again, authorities said.

Othram said Grimmett’s case is the 39th in California where authorities have used its technology to publicly identify a person. Last month, Othram helped identify a skeleton found in a plastic bag in California in 1985 as that of a woman. Born in 1864 and died a century ago.

The investigation into Grimmett is ongoing. Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Investigator Bob Taft at 714-647-7045 or [email protected]. Anonymous tips can be submitted to OC Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS (855-847-6227) or at occrimestoppers.org.

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