Body parts found at Kern County lake 2 years apart belonged to missing Santa Ana woman: Authorities

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A Santa Ana woman reported missing in 2017 has been positively identified after her remains were found at Kern County’s Buena Vista Lake in separate locations two years apart, KTLA sister station KGET in Bakersfield reported Thursday.

Shirley Cassel is seen in a photo released by Santa Ana police.
Shirley Cassel is seen in a photo released by Santa Ana police.

Shirley Mae Cassel was 63 years old when she was last seen alive at her residence on Aug. 21, 2017, according to the Santa Ana Police Department. Cassel’s landlord reported her missing weeks later.

On July 28, 2018, part of a human leg was found along the shore of Buena Vista Lake by a 5-year-old girl. Then, on July 12, 2020, more human remains were discovered in a car that was located in the lake, according to KGET.

At the time, investigators said the submerged vehicle was linked to someone who had been missing for three years. Police had indicated that it appeared Cassel had taken her car with her when she vanished, as the vehicle was not at her residence.

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office positively identified that the remains were from the same woman through DNA testing.

The Sheriff’s Office has closed its portion of the investigation, which is now being handled by Santa Ana police, KGET reported.

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