Photo courtesy LAPD
Photo courtesy LAPD

Authorities Thursday said the cause of death has been deferred, pending the results of tests, for a 26-year-old woman whose remains were found earlier this month in Santa Clarita, prompting a homicide investigation.

The remains, which were found about 12:15 p.m. on March 7 on Golden Valley Road, one-quarter mile west of Robert C Lee Parkway, were those of Maricela Garcia of Tarzana, according to coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter. Garcia was reported missing after last being seen in the San Fernando Valley in January.

An autopsy has been conducted, but the cause of death was listed as deferred, pending the results of tests, Winter said. The state of Garcia’s remains indicated her body had “been out there for some time,” he said.

Los Angeles police issued a call for help in locating the woman in the days after she was last seen.

Police said at the time that Garcia was last seen on Jan. 13 in the 18200 block of Sherman Way in Reseda, but her younger sister Sarah told reporters that the two were shopping the previous evening at a Goodwill store in the 19200 block of Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana, and that Marisela vanished after saying she was going outside to have a cigarette.

“Homicide detectives are in contact with the victim’s family, as well as the Los Angeles Police Department,” according to Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.

But three days before disappearing, Garcia appeared distraught and told her sister that she had a secret, Sarah Garcia told the Los Angeles Daily News.

At the time of Garcia’s disappearance, police said there was no sign of foul play, the Los Angeles Times reported.

—City News Service

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