Skull discovered near the Ridge Route by Frazier Park Sunday, July 8, 2007.
By Patric Hedlund
Another skull and human remains were found April 19 on the Ridge Route near the place The Mountain Enterprise first reported a skull was found July 8, 2007 by a Frazier Park man.
A reporter from a Los Angeles television station titled a story "Serial Killer on the Loose in Southern California?" on Monday, April 28 as she reported that the remains of "another female murder victim" had been found by students and personnel from the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office.
This reporter for The Mountain Enterprise interviewed Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Detective Mark Lillienfeld that same evening, who said forensic specialists have confirmed that the remains found by John Hartman in July are now known to be of a Caucasian (‘white or Hispanic’) female between 18 to 25 years old who had been shot in the back of the head, possibly two to ten years ago.
Forensic details regarding the new find are not yet available, despite the TV reporter’s claims, Lillienfeld said. Although the homicide detective said the two sets of remains were found within 100 feet of each other, he did not confirm the CBS Channel 2 reporter’s allusion to "remains of a second female." The sex of the new remains has not yet been confirmed.
When asked why the television reporter, Stacey Butler, had emphasized "a serial killer walking the streets of Southern California," the detective laughed and said: "That’s TV news." He does have a variety of his own speculations about the findings: "It could have been a murder-suicide of a boyfriend and girlfriend—couples going missing together is far more common than you’d think," he said. "And yes, another possibility is that it could have been a truck driver who picked up someone in Waco, Texas and did them in and then picked up someone else in Riverside and did the same thing, then dumped them both here in this remote place…or maybe it was two people killed together, at the same time…we don’t know yet."
When asked if the cause of death could have been a car accident or natural causes, Lillienfeld emphasized that forensics experts "who are paid a lot of taxpayer money because they know what they are talking about," were certain the hole in the back of the first skull was created by a bullet.
Lillienfeld said that DNA extracted from a tooth in the skull is being submitted to a lab to try to match with DNA of missing persons.
Hartman explained in an interview April 29 that he was scaling the steep cliff because he had seen a motorcycle that had gone over the side, below the truck of an acquaintance that had also gone off the road. As Hartman descended the slippery slope (off of Templin Highway on the Ridge Route), he discovered the skull.
Though he had originally reported last summer that he was flying a kite in the area (as he had often done with his daughter on the Ridge Route in the past), the detective concluded Hartman was responding to a friend’s request to collect items from the wrecked truck. Hartman laughed and said, "Nope, I wanted to get a closer look at the motorcycle." Before he could do that he found the skull. He says the motorcycle was gone the next day and by then the L.A. County Coroner and police officers were scanning the area.
Students from Cal State L.A., Butler reports, were on a field trip with L.A. County Coroner personnel when they discovered the second skull and scattered bones from the second set of remains.
After a thorough search of the rugged terrain, detectives said they do not believe there are any other remains in the area.
Lillienfeld hopes that the media reports "will jog someone’s memory, who may know something about this." Call (323) 890-5500 if you have information on this matter.
This is part of the May 02, 2008 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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