The body of a 35-year-old woman discovered near a busy frontage road west of here Wednesday is being regarded as the 18th victim of a serial killer preying on prostitutes and drug users in Riverside County.
The woman has been identified but her name is being withheld until relatives are notified. She lived in Riverside, the county coroner’s office said.
“At this time she is being considered to be the 18th victim of the Riverside County serial killer,” Riverside County Sheriff’s Detective Henry Sawicki said in a statement. “Preliminary findings indicate that the victim had a past history of prostitution and/or drug usage.”
A 14-member task force of Riverside County law enforcement officials has been looking into the series of murders, which began in 1986. Most of the victims had been known as prostitutes or as drug abusers.
If the task force does add the latest woman to the list of victims, the discovery would mark the fourth new serial killing to be discovered in four consecutive months. The last victim, Catherine McDonald, was found Sept. 13.
Most of the women who were killed have been dumped near Lake Elsinore in southwestern Riverside County.
The body found Wednesday was spotted at 7:15 a.m. in Mira Loma by a resident driving to work, Sawicki said. It was plainly visible amid the dry grass on a hillside above Granite Hills Drive, directly across the street from a nearly full “park-and-ride” lot.
Investigators declined to divulge any information about the body’s condition, except to say it appeared the victim had not been dead long.
They planned to interview residents in the semi-rural area and talk with commuters who left their cars in the lot Wednesday morning.