Santa Cruz police said Thursday they had solved a nearly two-decade-old mystery by identifying a body that was found in 1994, in a park near the UC Santa Cruz campus, as a teenage Pacifica girl.
In a case dubbed Pogonip Jane, police identified the remains as those of 17-year-old Kori Joanne Lamaster, Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said.
The girl’s partially buried body was found in Pogonip Park by a pair of hikers Jan. 29, 1994, and she remained unidentified until police found matches for her fingerprints and DNA in October, Clark said.
Lamaster’s death remains an open homicide case and police have identified two people of interest — Wayne White, a Tennessee resident, and his son Greg, who is now dead, Clark said.
The case was originally investigated by then-Officer Loran “Butch” Baker, one of the two Santa Cruz police officers gunned down on the job in February. Baker, who was the lead investigator on the case in the 1990s, picked up the case again after being promoted to sergeant and it continued to “haunt” him, Clark said.
Other police detectives took up the case after Baker died, and a major break came with a DNA match to a family member of Lamaster’s in October, Clark said.
Lamaster lived in Pacifica, but her family did not file a missing-persons report with the Pacifica Police Department until 2007, even though she went missing in 1993, according to Clark.
Her family submitted DNA samples in 2008 to Pacifica police, and in October, a California Department of Justice laboratory notified Santa Cruz police about the DNA findings, Clark said.
Santa Cruz police are interested in talking to anyone with information about Wayne and Greg White or who may have seen Lamaster in the Santa Cruz area in 1993, Clark said.