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Search for missing Long Beach woman's remains comes up empty, police say

Search for missing Long Beach woman's remains comes up empty, police say
A search for the remains of Diana Raquel Rojas, a young mother who vanished from her Long Beach home in 2000, came up empty on Thursday, Long Beach police said. (Long Beach Police)

Excavations of a plot of desert land in Kern County failed to help police find the remains of a missing Long Beach woman on Thursday, but detectives are now fielding additional calls that could help them find out what happened when she vanished 16 years ago.

A call from an anonymous person claiming to know where Diana Raquel Rojas was buried sent investigators to Ridgecrest, Calif., on Thursday, but four different areas near West Boston Avenue and South Guam Street were "explored and were all ruled out," according to a police spokeswoman.

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Long Beach police said they received several tips about Rojas' disappearance after they announced they would reopen her case as a homicide investigation on Wednesday, and will continue to pursue those leads.

Detectives also have yet to completely rule out the Ridgecrest area as a possible gravesite, a police spokeswoman said.

Rojas, who worked at a church and helped young single mothers, was last seen on Oct. 20, 2000, in her apartment in the 5500 block of Ackerfield Avenue, police said. She left her 2-year-old daughter with a relative and missed an appointment the next day, both of which her family deemed suspicious, investigators have said.

She was 27. Police searched her apartment at the time of her disappearance and, based on evidence collected there, "do not believe she left of her own free will," according to Homicide Sgt. Megan Zabel.

Police do not have a person of interest in the case. Rojas was going through a divorce, according to Zable, but police interviewed her estranged husband and did not consider him a suspect.

After receiving the anonymous call about the potential gravesite, Long Beach police contacted NecroSearch, a Colorado-based company that specializes in clandestine evidence recovery. The company found "topographical inconsistencies" in the area police searched Thursday, and cadaver dogs with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department also expressed interest in the same area, Zabel has said.

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for crime and police news in California.

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