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In 1983, children in California found a victim's skull with a distinctive gold tooth. She has finally been identified.

Tracing family trees to catch killers
Inside the genetic genealogy being used to solve crimes 13:49

A victim whose skull was found in a culvert by children in a Southern California city in 1983 has been identified 41 years after her remains were first discovered, authorities said.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department identified the victim Friday as Maritza Glean Grimmett, a Panamanian native who moved to the U.S. in the late 1970s. Grimmett was 20 years old at the time of her disappearance, authorities said in a news release. The investigation involved a DNA analysis using Grimmett's remains that helped investigators identify relatives.

After children discovered Grimmett's skull while playing in an area that is now part of Lake Forest, a city about 43 miles southeast of Los Angeles, about 70% of her remains were excavated from the ground.

An initial anthropological examination revealed the victim was a black or mixed-race woman, 18-24 years old, with a slight build and a distinctive gold tooth. But In the decades that followed, authorities were not able to identify the woman.

Maritza Glean Grimmett Othram

In 2022, a DNA sample from Grimmett's remains was sent to Othram Laboratories, a forensics group based in Texas, the sheriff's department said. A missing persons program within the U.S. Department of Justice funded the DNA extraction and testing. Authorities later discovered "a direct family line" for Grimmett and contacted one of her distant relatives in 2023, they said.

The relative recommended the findings of the forensics investigation be posted to a Facebook group focused on women who went missing in the 1970s and 1980s, the sheriff's department said. A month after the findings were posted, a woman reached out to investigators and said she believed she was the victim's missing mother.

Jane Doe's forensic renderings in 2022. Orange County Sheriff's Department

Relatives later submitted DNA samples to authorities, who identified the victim.

Authorities said Grimmett married a U.S. Marine in the summer of 1978 and gave birth to a daughter. After the family lived in Ohio and Tennessee, the couple began divorce proceedings in 1979. Grimmett told her sister she was going to California but her family never heard from her again, officials said.

Othram said Grimmett's case marked the 39th case California where officials have publicly identified a person using its technology. Just last month, Othram helped identify skeletal remains found in a plastic bag in California in 1985 as those of a woman who was born in 1864 and died over a century ago.

The investigation into Grimmett's is ongoing. Anyone with information on this case is asked to contact Investigator Bob Taft at 714-647-7045 or Anonymous tips may be submitted to OC Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS (855-847-6227) or at

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