SANTA ANA, Ca. (January 17, 2019) – The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has identified a Jane Doe homicide victim whose remains were recovered more than 31 years ago.
On August 30, 1987, a passerby discovered the skeletonized remains of a female in a grassy area about 50 feet from Santa Ana Canyon Road, a half-mile west of Gypsum Canyon Road in unincorporated Anaheim. The only items recovered near the body were a red handkerchief and a length of cord.
An anthropological examination of the remains confirmed the woman had been stabbed in the torso and her hands had been cut off. At the time the remains were discovered, experts estimated the body had been in the area approximately two months.
After an extensive investigation, which included the first-ever clay model facial reconstruction in Orange County history and periodic reviews of the case over the years, the case went cold and the victim could not be identified.
In May 2005, the California Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Services was able to extract a DNA profile for the victim, which was uploaded to the California Missing Person’s Database and the National Unidentified Person’s DNA Index. Over the years, her DNA profile was compared to several possible subjects in an attempt to identify the victim, with no results.
In January 2017, an OCSD Investigator assigned to the Orange County Cold Case Homicide Task Force reviewed the case and worked in partnership with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Coroner Division, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the National Missing and Unidentified Person System (NamUs), to develop several new likenesses of the victim. Those images were publicly released, but the victim remained unidentified.
With new breakthroughs in investigative genealogy techniques, Sheriff’s investigators in August 2018 partnered with the nonprofit DNA Doe Project in an attempt to identify the victim. The DNA Doe Project is a volunteer-run, forensic genealogy organization that has made six positive identifications of Jane and John Doe subjects since its inception in 2017.
The DNA Doe Project on November 14, 2018 tentatively identified the victim. DNA believed to be from a family member was submitted to the California Department of Justice (CalDOJ) and matched to the victim. CalDOJ submitted their results to the OCSD Coroner Division for identity confirmation. Using forensic odontology, the Coroner Division confirmed on January 15 the victim to be 20-year-old Tracey Coreen Hobson, who was living in Anaheim at the time she disappeared.
“Forensic genealogy has provided a new tool for investigators to work cases from a different angle to bring closure to families,” Sheriff Don Barnes said. “We will never stop investigating these types of cases and seeking justice for victims of crime.”
Family members have been notified and the Sheriff’s Department will now turn its focus to investigating the homicide case. Anyone with information related to this case is encouraged to contact Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS or crimestoppers.org.