Claudette Powers has been missing for 37 years. Now, San Diego County Sheriff's detectives have identified her remains and are trying to find out who killed her.
Just a few years after she moved to San Diego at the age of 21 years old, she went missing. In 1986, a couple found a woman’s body near a campsite on Los Coyotes Indian Reservation in Warner Springs. Detectives ruled it a homicide and worked the case for years, but could never identify the victim.
“She had no ID, no one reported her missing," said Lisa Brannan, a homicide detective with the San Diego Sheriff's Department. "The case went cold.”
In 2023, the sheriff’s homicide unit was able to identify that woman as Claudette Powers, all thanks to one piece of hair.
“They went back through the case and found a hair that hadn’t been tested and they were able to get a DNA profile that we loaded up into GEDmatch.”
GEDmatch is a genealogy website that locates distant relatives. Then, detectives researched census records and obituaries to create a family tree. They were able to contact Claudette’s daughters, sister and mother.
Finding the Killer
Detectives are still trying to find Claudette’s killer. They believe she may have lived on Fig Street in Escondido, and worked at a restaurant nearby. They're asking anyone with information to call the homicide unit at (858) 285-6330.
This is the seventh time the homicide unit has used investigative genetic genealogy to solve or identify remains in a cold case.
They're now using it to identify a man’s body that was found near Claudette’s. They believe his case is connected to hers. If you’re missing a loved one, detectives ask that you put your DNA profile into GEDmatch.
(Photo San Diego County Sheriff's Department)