Officials need the public’s help to identify human remains discovered in Orange County.

The boy, identified only as “John Doe,” was found in Trabuco Canyon on Dec. 13, 1996, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Authorities responded to reports of human remains found in a wilderness area just east of Trabuco Creek Road.

Based on anthropological reports, the boy was around 15-19 years old. He stood between 5 feet 2 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall with a medium build. His teeth were found in poor condition by an odontologist’s report.

Investigators believe the boy went missing sometime around 1995-1996. They believe the remains had been in the area for up to two years when discovered, with “environmental factors affecting their condition.”

In 2020, the O.C. Sheriff’s Coroner Division partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to generate leads for identification. 

Officials are asking for the public’s help to identify found a teen boy who was found dead in Trabuco Canyon in Orange County. (Orange County Sheriff’s Department)
Officials are asking for the public’s help to identify a teen boy who was found dead in Trabuco Canyon in Orange County. (Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

A computed tomography (CT) scan of his skull was created and submitted to NCMEC, which used reconstruction techniques to develop renderings of what he may have looked like. With those renderings, a sketch was created to reflect the boy’s potential Latin American descent, officials said.

Collaborating with the DNA Doe Project, genetic testing revealed the boy was likely from a “remote/rural area in Latin America due to the very low threshold of genetic matches.”

With the updated renderings, authorities are hoping someone may recognize the boy and be able to identify him. 

Anyone with information about John Doe can contact the Orange County Coroner Division at 714-647-7400 or email coroner@OCSheriff.gov. Reference case number 96-07901-MU.