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Police Solve Two-Decade-Old 'Pogonip Jane' Cold Case

Familial DNA helped solve the case of a missing Pacifica girl found murdered in Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz Sheriff's Department volunteer Chris Smith made this bust from the remains in the hopes of identifying the victim. Courtesy SCPD
Santa Cruz Sheriff's Department volunteer Chris Smith made this bust from the remains in the hopes of identifying the victim. Courtesy SCPD
—Written by Brad Kava

A Pacifica teen whose parents didn't report her missing for 14 years after she was killed was determined to be the mystery murder victim found in Pogonip Park 20 years ago, Santa Cruz Police said Wednesday.

Kori Joanne Lamaster, who was 17 when she was murdered, was a runaway.

She went missing in 1993, but her parents didn't report her missing until 2007. 

The case was dubbed “Pogonip Jane” when the body of a young female was found partially buried in Pogonip Park by two hikers on January 29, 1994.

The victim was not identified and had not been reported as missing, according to Deputy Chief Steve Clark. 

The big break in the case came from familial DNA, a new technique that links genes of family members.

A DNA sample from Lamaster's mother taken in 2008 was linked by the state crime lab to Kori in October. 

Familial DNA is a relatively new technology. It solved the three-year-old Kind Grind rape case in 2011. 

The Santa Cruz Police Department took special interest in the case because it was one that was investigated by Detective Loran "Butch" Baker, who was murdered in February. 

Said Clark: "Butch commented on how this case continued to haunt him, as well as his strong desire to bring notification and closure to the victim’s family, whoever and wherever they are. Butch never gave up trying to identify 'Pogonip Jane.' Following his death in February, SCPD Detectives took up Butch’s case and were determined to bring it to closure."

After the DNA hit, Detective Bruce Cline traveled to Washington state, where he found a fingerprint card taken from Kori when she was a child. That confirmed her identity.

Police are still seeking the murderer and have "persons of interest."

"In the course of our investigation, we identified a father and son who were witnessed to have traveled with Kori around the time of her death," said Clark. 

"These individuals were 'persons of interest' in our investigation and remain in that status today. They are Wayne White (father) and Greg White (son). Greg is since deceased, but Wayne lives in Tennessee. We are interested in talking with anyone who may information about this father and son team, especially anyone who may have witnessed them traveling with Kori."

To Leave anonymous information regarding this incident, please call our TIP LINE (831) 420-5995 or use the SCPD mobile iPhone and Android App.


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