Investigators say a man recently confessed to her murder, which led them to her remains.
The suspect is the victim's one-time friend Christopher McAmis, 31, who had remained a person of interest in the disappearance since he was the last person to see her.
McAmis confessed to killing Ekelund in his former home in Whittier before dumping her body in a canyon area in the Santa Clarita Valley, where he worked a construction job with his father.
Detecties said Ekelund vanished after going to a San Diego club with McAmis and two other students on Feb. 17, 2001. McAmis allegedly tried to force himself on her when they were alone, but when she refused his advances, things allegedly turned deadly.
The coroner was able to use dental records to identify the remains. The cause of Ekelund's murder remains under investigation.