Skeletal remains found in the high desert of San Bernardino County have been identified as a woman who was reported missing 23 years ago.
The county coroner’s office used DNA to identify Jovita Collazo after her remains were found near Apple Valley, according to the National City Police Department. Coroner’s investigators were unable to determine a cause of death.
Her then-boyfriend, Michael Richardson, was charged and pleaded guilty in her death.
“The family of Ms. Collazo experienced closure to the degree that her murderer answered to charges and plead guilty … but her body was never located,” police said in a statement.
National City police had been looking for Collazo, 38, since May 2, 1992, when she was reported missing. Even though her body was not located, police always believed she was dead.
At the time, Richardson was considered a person of interest, police said. But detectives couldn’t arrest Richardson because there was no direct evidence linking him to her disappearance.
Then in June 2010, the bodies of Richardson’s wife, Thao Richardson, and her mother were found at the site of a car wreck near Lakeside, police said. The car appeared to have tumbled down an embankment.
Richardson was charged in August 2010 for their deaths.
Working with National City police, the San Diego County district attorney’s office also charged Richardson with Collazo’s death. The case, police said, was based on circumstantial evidence because her body was never found.
In 2013, Richardson pleaded guilty to all three killings and was sentenced to six life sentences, police said.
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