In a case that has only moved forward with repeated long shots, the latest long shot has come up short in the unsolved murder of a woman found near Shady Rest Campground in Mammoth.
In January, the Mammoth Police and Sgt. Paul Dostie sent the womans clothes off to an anthropologist with the hope of finding pollen evidence that could tell investigators where the woman had been before meeting her end in Mammoth. Those results have now come back inconclusive.
Four years ago, a man on a walk found human remains in a shallow grave above the Shady Rest Campground. Forest Service employees had reported seeing a couple believed to be the murder victim and the suspect.
When the case started, investigators didnt even know the female victims name. A forensic artist was able to create a drawing of the womans face, but Sgt. Dostie also enlisted the help of the academics. Using DNA samples, an anthropologist from UC Davis matched the material to a specific village in Mexico. When FBI agents brought the forensic drawing to the village in Oaxaca, they found a woman who said that the picture could be her missing step daughter, Barbara Pacheko Santiago.
Sgt. Dostie then sent the womans shoes, fake fur winter coat, and white synthetic blouse material to Professor Vaughn Bryant, an anthropologist with Texas A and M. The idea was to ask Dr. Bryant to search the murder victims clothes for traces of pollen that didnt come from the grave site and could tell investigators where she had been before she was buried in the shallow grave.
Dr. Bryant reports that many types of pollen found on the clothing grow locally, including sage, alder, juniper and mustard. An ornamental type of cheesewood tree pollen was found, but this plant is grown in many coastal California counties from San Diego to Humboldt County.
In the end Dr. Bryant writes that because of the shallow unprotected gravesite where the body was found, the pollen assemblage was too contaminated to make any absolute determinations.
Where this leaves the investigation into the four year old murder case is yet to be determined.