Body of woman found in 1991 finally identified

May 29, 2008 7:04:29 PM PDT
The combination of relentless police work, DNA evidence and the Internet has led to the identification of an East Bay murder victim -- a woman discovered in a ravine 17 years ago in Palomares Canyon, east of Castro Valley. Now detectives are hoping to track down the young mother's killer.

Her body was found at the bottom of a steep ravine in 1991, and now she's finally a Jane Doe no more.

"We have identified her as Vicenta Sanchez-Orellana. She was 24 years old at the time of her death," says Sgt. Scott Dudek with the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.

In January 1991, passersby found a woman's body burned beyond recognition off Palomares Road in Castro Valley. She was wearing a burgundy mandarin jacket and a wedding band inscribed with the initials O-M-O.

The autopsy revealed she died from numerous blows to the head.

Despite publicity about the case, no one came forward to identify the victim until last year, when a family in Texas saw information about the case on the Jane Doe Network Web site and contacted Alameda County detectives. They conducted DNA testing and found a match.

Vicenta was a native of El Salvador, living in Oakland with her two small children, a cousin and husband who never reported her missing to police.

Detectives say the husband told his children their mother left them. He later remarried and now lives in Stockton. The initials O-M-O on Vicenta's ring are his.

"We have talked to the husband and it is a source of ongoing investigation from our standpoint," says Sgt. Dudek.

Besides her family and friends, detectives hope to hear from anyone who might have employed Vicenta in the early 1990s when she worked as a housekeeper in Berkeley and Oakland.

"Just the fact that we've been able to identify her opens up a whole new door for us. So we have a lot of directions to go and a lot of people to talk to. So we're very confident," says Det. Greg Landeros with the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.

The Alameda County coroner will now release Vicenta's remains to her parents who will take them back to El Salvador for burial.

Anyone with information about murder victim Vicenta Sanchez-Orellana is asked to contact:

Sgt. Scott Dudek
Alameda Co. Sheriff's Dept.
(510) 667-7478

Todd Matthews
Jane Doe Network
(931) 397-3893
www.doenetwork.org


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