Vanishing Still a Vexing Mystery : Search: Denise A. Huber disappeared without a trace in June, 1991, but family, friends and detectives would not give up until she was found.


For more than three years, the disappearance of Denise A. Huber has been one of Orange County’s most vexing and tragic mysteries.

Family, friends, and law-enforcement officials agonized over how the popular 23-year-old Newport Beach woman vanished June 3, 1991. Many assumed the worst, yet most were unwilling to stop searching until she was found.

On Sunday, law-enforcement officials were unraveling the mystery, having found Huber’s nude body wrapped in garbage bags and stuffed in a freezer kept in a stolen rental truck in Dewey, Ariz. John Joseph Famalaro, a 37-year-old handyman formerly from Orange County, has been charged with Huber’s murder.


Information about her death still remains limited.

What is known is that she attended a Morrissey concert at the Forum with a friend that June evening, went to a bar afterward and then dropped the friend off about 2 a.m. She was never heard from again.

The only clue left behind was her 1988 Honda Accord. It was stranded on the side of the Corona del Mar Freeway, near the Bear Street off-ramp, with a flat rear tire. The doors were unlocked, the windows were left slightly open. There was no apparent sign of a struggle.

“It’s perhaps the most frustrating case I’ve ever worked,” said Logan Clarke, a private investigator hired by the family shortly after Huber’s disappearance. “It was baffling.”

Clarke said he was horrified by the discovery in Arizona.

“I feel like throwing up,” he said. “I’ve done cases where people have been stabbed 42 times, slaughters and satanic cults, but this was the worst. This girl is what every mother and father would want. She was as American as apple pie. She was fun and full of life.”

Clarke said he spent many hours trying to locate Huber’s abductor.

“We did a tremendous amount of searching,” he said. “Everybody did.”

He speculated Sunday that the suspect might have treated her as a “prize catch. . . . She was so beautiful and so sweet and because of that he may have wanted to hang onto her.”

Robert Calvert, 27, of Huntington Beach who attended the concert with Huber the night she disappeared, said he frequently thinks about her apparent abduction.


“I always think about her and the good times that I’ve had with her. It’s like it’s finalized now,” he said. “In a way it’s a great relief. I’ve been trying to get on with my own life, and it’s been tough.”

Calvert said he was relieved that a suspect has been arrested in connection with Huber’s death.

“I always thought they would just find some bones in the desert and they’d never be able to find out who did it,” he said.

Calvert said he was appalled to hear that Huber’s body had been preserved and stuffed in a freezer.

“I put this up with the (Jeffrey) Dahmer thing,” he said. “It’s bizarre. I hope that Denise didn’t suffer too greatly. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered.”