On June 26th, 2023

Homicide Victim Found 27 Years Ago in Riverside County Identified

“Ultimately, the California Department of Justice Riverside Crime Labe was able to positively identify the victim through its missing and identified persons system.  It’s been decades since her death and the case remains unresolved.” – Riverside County DA Michael Hestrin

RIVERSIDE – On June 26, 2023, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office announce that the body of a homicide victim found 27 years ago along Highway 60 has now been identified as Juana Rosas-Zagal, 41, of Los Angeles. Her body was found on Jan. 27, 1996, in the Moreno Valley area.

Because of a lack of investigative leads, the case and the victim’s identity remained unresolved for decades. In December of 2022, the Riverside County Regional Cold Case Homicide Team (RCCHT) was finally able to identify not only the victim but also four of her daughters who had nearly lost hope of knowing the whereabouts of their mother.

Using current DNA technologies, such as Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy, the team was able to locate a close ancestral link. That technology uses direct-to-consumer databases to explore the ancestral ties of unidentified homicide victims.

Using that and other public databases such as the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, the team located Juana's daughters. The California Department of Justice – Riverside Crime Lab, through its Missing and Unidentified Persons System, was then able to positively identify the victim as Juana Rosas-Zagal.

“Homicide investigations more often than not, start with the victim.  If a homicide victim is not identified, and there is little evidence where the body was found, it is difficult to investigate.  Fortunately, investigators and criminalists continue to have access to new and improved technology that is assisting investigators and families of missing or unidentified persons,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.

Detectives believe there are still friends, neighbors, or colleagues of Juana who may be able to provide more information to help clarify Juana's disappearance. Anyone who knew Juana or has any further information is asked to contact detectives at (951) 955-0740 or (951) 955-2777.

A video regarding this information can be found here: https://youtu.be/ECCspGzjnjA

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