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Search for Bryce Laspisa

A 19-year-old Laguna Niguel teen has been missing since Aug. 30, 2013, when he told his mother he was too tired to drive. His SUV was found near Castaic Lake, where a search was focused.

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The family of Bryce Laspisa, who disappeared on his way home to Orange County from a Sacramento-area college nearly six months ago, have planned three separate vigils to be held Friday as they continued to hold out hope of finding him.

Bryce-Laspisa

Bryce Laspisa (center) is seen in a family photo.

The search for Laspisa began when his wrecked SUV was found on the Castaic Lake boat ramp access road on Aug. 30, 2013.

Laspisa’s wallet, cell phone and laptop were found at the crash site.

Despite many searches and some reported sightings, Laspisa’s fate remained a mystery.

His parents were hopeful that he would be found or contact them, a news release from the family stated.

Anyone with information regarding Laspisa was asked to call the 949-292-4400 tip line, go to the FIND BRYCE LASPISA Facebook page, or send an email to findbrycelaspisa@gmail.com.

The vigils will be held Friday at the following locations:

  • Real Life Church Room, located at 101 Newhall Ranch Road in Valencia (map) at 3 p.m.
  • Naperville Women’s Club, located at 14 S. Washington St. in Naperville, Ill., (map) at 8 p.m. CDT.
  • Sierra College (near the quad under a canopy) located at 5000 Rocklin Road in Rocklin, in Northern California, (map) at 5 p.m.

Family members were expected to be at both the Valencia and Naperville vigils “if you wish to show support and join them in prayer,” the release stated.

Volunteers and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigators continued to search Tuesday in the area of Castaic Lake for an Orange County teen whose vehicle was found there more than 10 days before.

castaicboat-search

A sheriff’s department boat returns toward shore on Tuesday after searching Castaic Lake for missing teen Bryce Laspisa.

The effort to find Bryce Laspisa was persistent, even as no word had been heard from him since the early morning hours of Aug. 30, when he told his mother he was too tired to drive.

Laspisa, 19, had been on his way home to Laguna Niguel from Sierra College outside of Sacramento. Hours after he called his mother Karen, his SUV was found on its side near Castaic Lake.

The vehicle’s rear window was smashed, and Laspisa’s wallet and cell phone were still in the car.

On Sept. 4, a burning male body was found nearby, and coroner’s officials said it had not been identified as of Tuesday. Homicide detectives had placed a security hold on the coroner’s investigation, meaning no information would be immediately publicly released.

Meanwhile, divers with the sheriff’s department searched an area near a spillway into Castaic Lake on Tuesday.

castaic lake search

Volunteer searcher Amanda Fajardo hold a map of Castaic Lake on Tuesday.

A volunteer effort coordinated by Laspisa’s uncle and father was looking at area campgrounds and other nearby spots where Laspisa might have gone.

The search team, which was being coordinated in part through a Facebook page called Find Bryce Laspisa, was meeting at a Starbucks in the area.

Volunteer searchers — many of whom don’t know the Laspisa family personally — had tied orange ribbons on their cars in honor of the 19-year-old, a redhead. They were putting out flyers as well as going over rugged ground in their search for the teen.

“The terrain is really treacherous out there, and it’s hard to get to a lot of places, but a lot of the volunteers come back and they have holes in their jeans,” volunteer Heidi Leonardt said. “You can really tell, they’ve gone every place.”

bryce laspisa

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department provided this image of Laspisa, who was last heard from on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013.

Bryce Laspisa’s mother remained hopeful  and had been praying, seeking to remain patient with the search, she said Tuesday.

The underwater search for a missing Orange County teen continued Thursday at Castaic Lake, a day after a burning male body was found not far from the site where the teen’s overturned SUV had been discovered a few days before.

castaic lake search

Divers with the sheriff’s department searched Castaic Lake on Thursday in an effort to fine Bryce Laspisa.

The charred body remained unidentified Thursday, according to Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corral.

On Wednesday, sheriff’s department officials had said they had not been able to make a connection between the charred body and the case of missing Laguna Niguel 19-year-old Bryce Laspisa.

Laspisa had been driving home from Sierra College, the school he attended outside of Sacramento, when he told his mother on the phone that he was too tired to drive. That was about 2 a.m. Friday, Aug. 30.

A few hours later, his SUV was found on its side near Castaic Lake with a rear window smashed. Laspisa’s wallet and cell phone remained in the car.

bryce laspisa

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department provided this image of Laspisa, who was last heard from on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013.

Searches of the area have continued since then, and on Thursday divers with the sheriff’s department returned to Castaic Lake to search for Laspisa. They were in the water for a few hours before appearing to pack up and leave.

His mother, Karen Laspisa, said the family had volunteered her son’s dental records and clothing in case they are needed for identification or search purposes.

She said she remains hopeful that he’ll be found.

castaic lake body

Homicide investigators work at the scene where a burning body was found near Castaic Lake on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the charred body found on Wednesday morning by a passing bicyclist a few miles from Laspisa’s SUV was at the county coroner’s office in downtown Los Angeles, where it had not yet been examined, Corral said Thursday. He expected the examination to happen Friday, he said.

The body, which sheriff’s investigators had said was male, was placed under a “security hold” by homicide detectives because of the ongoing investigation, Corral said. No information will be released by the coroner’s office until the hold is lifted, he added.

A burned male body was found Wednesday morning near Castaic Lake, authorities said.

Los Angeles County Fire personnel, along with deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Station, responded to the location near Lake Hughes Road about 6 a.m. after a cyclist reported seeing a small brush fire.

castaic-covered

Sky5 video showed a canopy over the remains of a body near Castaic Lake.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze and made the grim discovery.

Sky5 video showed California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and fire officials at the scene, which was cordoned off with police tape.

A canopy and privacy barriers were erected to shield the person’s remains from view.

In an afternoon press conference, authorities said they still had not identified the body.

“We don’t know a whole lot. We’ll know a lot more once the autopsy is performed,” sheriff’s Lt. Dave Dolson said.

Dolson said the body was male, and that was one of the only things investigators knew about the person.

No connection had been made between the body and the search for 19-year-old Bryce Laspisa, a college student from Laguna Niguel who has been missing since last week, an official with the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.

Laspisa’s family members said Wednesday they were waiting for an update from investigators.

Divers searched Castaic Lake on Tuesday, four days after Laspisa’s SUV was found nearby. They also searched on Wednesday.

“At this point there’s no way we can connect the two because we don’t have a positive identification on the body,” said sheriff’s Lt. Wes Sutton.

Investigators will examine video footage from surveillance cameras located in the area, Sutton said.

Both lanes of Lake Hughes Road remained open.

Check back for more updates on this developing story.

Divers searched Castaic Lake on Tuesday for clues in the disappearance of a college student from Orange County whose overturned SUV was discovered at the bottom of a ravine near a boat launch.

bryce laspisa

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department provided this image of Laspisa, who was last heard from on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013.

Bryce Laspisa, 19, was last heard from shortly after 2 a.m. Friday, Aug. 30, when he called his parents to say he was too tired to drive.

Laspisa, a student at Sierra College near Sacramento, was making his first trip home to Laguna Niguel from Northern California in a white Toyota Highlander recently given to him by his parents.

“He said ‘I got off the 5 (Freeway) in a residential area. I’m tired, I’m going to sleep in my car,’” Bryce Laspisa’s mother, Karen Laspisa told KTLA.

She asked her son to call her when he woke up.

“That’s the last I talked to him,” Karen Laspisa said.

Bryce Laspisa’s SUV was discovered lying on its side near Castaic Lake a few hours later.

Its rear window was smashed, and deputies believed Bryce Laspisa managed to break the back window and walk away from the SUV.

“Thinking that he’s out there hurt is the main focus. I can’t believe he would be on a journey of his own without telling his parents,” Bryce Laspisa’s father, Michael Laspisa said.

“Totally out of character. He’s the kind of son who will call you if he’s got a hangnail. He’s totally an open book,” Michael Laspisa said.

divers search for bryce laspisa

Divers search Castaic Lake in effort to find Bryce Laspisa. (credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

Searches of the area, including a dive team’s search of the lake and helicopter and canine searches of surrounding mountains, had turned up no sign of the missing teen.

Nearby San Francisquito Canyon was searched on Tuesday.

A Facebook page – Find Bryce Laspisa – was set up to distribute more information.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department described Laspisa at 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighing 170 pounds, with red hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information was asked to call the sheriff’s department Parks Bureau at 661-272-2594.

If Laspisa is spotted, call the sheriff’s department’s Missing Persons detectives at 323-890-5500.

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