Grandad Says Bone Pieces Aren’t Laura’s

Times Staff Writer

The grandfather of Laura Bradbury, who disappeared more than 4 years ago from a family campsite at Joshua Tree National Monument, angrily repudiated a televised report Friday that said skull fragments found in the Morongo Basin in 1986 were those of his granddaughter.

“Baloney!” Dana Winters said. “Don’t you think if they had found that the skeletal remains had matched up that they would have notified the parents? Don’t you think that’s the logical thing?”

KCBS-TV reported Friday evening that recent DNA testing at an unnamed “eastern laboratory” on the skull fragments indicated a “99% probability of a match” with the Huntington Beach child, who was 3 years old when she disappeared on Oct. 18, 1984. The station did not cite its sources for the report.

Winters said his son-in-law and daughter, Mike and Patty Bradbury, were recently asked by the news media to comment on those tests. The couple were out of town Friday and not available for comment, but Winters said they both discredited the DNA test results.


Cooperation Cited

The missing girl’s grandfather said that the Bradburys had cooperated with investigators for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department more than 2 years ago, when the bone fragments were first discovered.

At that time, a forensic anthropologist at Cal State Fullerton was unable to determine whether they were Laura’s. In fact, anthropologist Judy Suchey found that the fragments were from a child between the ages of 2 and 5 who had been dead for less than 2 years, but she was unable to determine either the sex of the child or its ethnic origin.

“And Patty and Mike also couldn’t believe the skull was ever Laura’s because the location where it was found was in an unaccessible area and impossible for a child to get into,” Winters said.

“But isn’t it interesting how whoever is quoting this latest test never reveals the source? And if it’s a testing laboratory, well, tell me which one. Doesn’t it seem odd to you? Like as if someone is trying to get publicity?”

Since Suchey’s examination, the Bradburys have not been contacted by any scientific laboratory, Winters said, indicating that any blood tests that would be needed for DNA analysis had to have been taken 2 years ago. At that time, several San Bernardino sheriff’s spokesmen, including Sheriff Floyd Tidwell, discounted the tests, saying that “not enough positive evidence” was found to say conclusively that the skull was Laura’s.

“The only thing we could tell was that it was a skull of a human child,” Phil Alexander, chief deputy coroner of San Bernardino County, told The Times earlier.

Winters said that Mike Bradbury hasn’t stopped looking for his daughter, despite reports that he and Patty Bradbury have given up hope and planned to get on with their lives. The couple do not believe that the fragments are Laura’s, and Mike Bradbury has expressed anger at authorities for how the investigation was handled, Winters added.

‘No Truth to Report’

“As far as Mike and Patty are concerned, there is no truth to this report and no truth that they have given up,” Winters said.

KCBS-TV reporter Dave Lopez said that the fragments analyzed under the DNA process were studied at the request of the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department. That department, however, has refused to confirm or deny the report.

Patty Bradbury, who has waged a dispute for several years with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, has suggested she will not believe any study that involves that agency.

KCBS-TV said a final report on the DNA analysis is due within the next 60 days.