Missing woman’s remains positively identified in Death Valley

November 06, 2009 3:37 PM
By JESSICA CEJNAR, staff writer

Human remains that were found in Death Valley National Park about a year and a half ago were positively identified recently as belonging to a woman who was last seen in Barstow in 2003.

The Inyo County Coroner’s office positively determined that the remains belonged to Catherine Lique 10 days ago, said Jeff Mullenhour, deputy coroner for the southern region of Inyo County. Lique’s next of kin, daughter Stephanie Thompson, was notified three days ago, he said. At this time the cause of Lique’s death is still being investigated.

Lique was 44 when she disappeared.

Lique’s remains were found by hikers near a mining road in Death Valley National Park in March 2008. Because the death certificate hasn’t been made public yet the exact location can’t be determined, but bone fragments were found at different locations at the park, Mullenhour said. A positive identification was made through a DNA comparison between the bone fragments and Thompson’s DNA, he said.

Thompson, and Gloria Denton, whose daughter April Pitzer has also been missing, searched the desert for signs of Lique and Pitzer in May. Pitzer was last seen in Newberry Springs in 2003. The search for Pitzer will continue, Thompson wrote in an e-mail Friday. A memorial service for Lique will be held in Newberry Springs in February, she said.

“It’s very relieving to have answers, but very difficult to stomach,” she said. “People can say closure every day of the week, but this will not bring closure sadly. (It) just opens a new chapter of an already very difficult journey.”

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com

See original at Desert Dispatch

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