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Investigators check missing person files

September 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A disturbing discovery in the High Desert began with a severed hand, then a torso near a middle school. Now investigators are searching for more body parts and checking reports of missing persons in hopes of identifying the victim. The search for this homicide mystery is taking place in the Lake Los Angeles area near Palmdale.

On Thursday morning detectives said that their investigation intensified into body parts that were found on Wednesday by middle school students in the desert field.

The body parts included a hand that was found by a passerby on Tuesday night at a dirt road in Lake Los Angeles.

"We've determined it to be a homicide investigation and have recovered about 85 percent of a deceased person," said Ed Winter from the Los Angeles County Coroner's office. "It's been out here for some time."

Winter could not comment on how the individual was killed.

"I'm not at liberty to say at this time. It's still under investigation. As I said there is some definite evidence that has been recovered here that has lead us to believe it is a homicide. We have to make a complete exam of the remains to determine the sex and age of the individual," said Winter.

Coroner's officials said that they have several missing person's reports and they say they are investigating whether the remains could be that of one of the missing people.

"Several individuals that have been missing or listed as a critical missing out here in the area and the Sheriff's department is following up on all leads," said Winter. "The Sheriff's have obtained those names. We're not releasing any names. We don't want to cause a panic or put out misinformation on who we believe it might be."

As for the middle school students who found several body parts?

"They're doing fine," said Terri Grey from Wilsona School District. "They were very verbal about the incident yesterday after it happened and they went home and are doing great. We had the school psychologist speak to them this morning and she felt they were doing really well with the whole situation."

Officials say they'll use dental records and DNA to hopefully identify the remains.

There's no timetable on when that will happen.

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