The victim's mother is heartbroken but relieved that the search just may be over. Detectives at the L.A. County Coroner's Office have finished digging for remains in a canyon area in the Santa Clarita Valley. Now the job is to make a positive identification.
"We worked together, went to school together, did volunteer work. I was her parent but at the same time I was a good friend," said Nancy Ekelund, Lynsie Ekelund's mother. "I felt like that's the best memory I have of her. I'm not going to let that die."
It has been nearly a decade of anguish and tears for the family of 20-year-old Fullerton College student Lynsie Ekelund.
She vanished in 2001. Last week, cold-case detectives finally got enough evidence to arrest a suspect in the case. That 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.
"Possibly Chris has been living a double life almost 10 years. His new wife doesn't know, as far as I've been told, she didn't have a clue," said Nancy Ekelund.
McAmis confessed to killing Lynsie 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. Detectives believe bones and clothing recovered at the location Wednesday and Thursday are most likely those of Lynsie's.
"I don't like the outcome, and I know she is not hurting anymore," said Nancy Ekelund. "And I can't get it out of my mind that she must have been terrified that last night."
Detecties say Lynsie vanished after going to a San Diego club with McAmis and two other students on February 17, 2001. Investigators say McAmis tried to force himself on Lynsie when they were alone. Lynsie refused his advances. Things allegedly turned deadly.
"Based on the charges we believe that the murder occurred during the commission of a rape," said Placentia Police Lt. Dale Carlson.
Investigators say faced with hard evidence in questioning, McAmis opened up, saying he knew this day would come and they say he seemed relieved to unload the guilt of murder.
"I would ask him why he hurt such a beautiful person," said Nancy Ekelund. "I want him to know how much I am hurting and my family is hurting. That she had so much potential of serving people. She loved people. But in my heart there is no doubt that he is the one."
L.A. County Coroner's officials say they will use DNA and dental records to come up with a positive identification of the remains found at the location. They say that could take weeks.