Victim in 1994 Riverside County cold case identified through forensic genealogy

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The Riverside County District Attorney's Office released this sketch of the victim and a photo of the woman who was later identified as the victim on Jan. 3, 2022.

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office released this sketch of the victim and a photo of the woman who was later identified as the victim on Jan. 3, 2022.

A woman who was found partially buried in the desert in the Thousand Palms area in 1994 was finally identified through forensic genealogy, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday.

The woman was found on Oct. 24, 1994 and investigators exhausted all resources to identify the woman, including entering her DNA into the California Department of Justice Missing and Unidentified Persons System, to no avail.

The case soon went cold because authorities were also not able to get any leads into what may have happened to the woman.

Last year, the DA’s regional cold case homicide team had a DNA sample created for forensic genealogy.
“Using genetic matches, the Cold Case Team was able to locate a potential match. A biological child was found, and a DNA sample was submitted to the state Missing and Unidentified Persons System,” officials said in a news release.

Then last month, the team was notified that the California Department of Justice issued a final report showing strong support that the victim was Patricia Cavallaro, who was born March 22, 1937.

Authorities on Monday released a sketch of the victim that was distributed before she was identified, and a photo of Cavallaro’s driver’s license.

“Without the use of forensic genealogy, this victim may have never been identified,” officials said in the news release.

The team notified her next of kin, but the investigation into her death remains ongoing.

No further details about the death or the victim were released Monday.

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