On May 4, 2004, two hikers were walking along a trail in a wooded area near the I-5 exit in Rancho Bernardino, San Diego County, California, off West Bernardino Drive. During their trek, they came across a green and white duffel bag with leather handles that had been covered with a green winter coat.
Upon looking inside the bag, they saw a human skull and bones.
Given the remains were skeletal when found, it was difficult for the medical examiner to determine the cause of John Doe’s death, but they did state it was likely a homicide. It’s estimated he died between 1999 and 2003.
John Doe’s race is currently unknown, but his skeletal features are consistent with being mostly Caucasian. He was likely between the ages of 2 and 4, and had light-to-medium brown hair. Due to the state of the remains, his height, weight and eye colour couldn’t be determined.
When found, he was wearing child-sized, red warm-up pants with white stripes down the sides; a long-sleeved red sweatshirt with a cartoon girl with pigtails and pink heart glasses on the front, size five; a blue French Toast vest with a grey hood and both “Football Power” and a yellow football player on the front, size 3T; a green Worm_El sweatshirt with “Winter Fever” and a cartoon surfer on the front, size 8; and two grey/tan socks with red trim.
Found in the duffel bag were a long-sleeved tan, black and red casual shirt with “Kamikaze” printed on the front and “Racing Team” on the back, size XL; a tan and yellow blanket with fringe trim; and fragments of red mesh, ribbed and satin-type cloth.
Isotope testing performed by the University of South Florida indicated the deceased’s mother had spent a portion of her pregnancy in the southeastern US, in an area stretching from Louisiana to North Carolina. He was likely born in the region and spent the first year of his life there, before travelling to California.
The testing also indicated he may have spent time in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and North and South Carolina prior to his death.
1) Allen Michael McPeak, who went missing from Mission, Texas on August 9, 2001.
2) Benancio Martinez Beltran, who went missing from Santa Ana, California on December 5, 1983.
3) Brandon Lee Wade, who went missing from Valdosta, Georgia on October 14, 2002.
4) Jahi Marques Turner, who went missing from San Diego, California on April 25, 2002.
5) John Caballero Walters, who went missing from Los Angeles, California on April 24, 1981.
6) Jose Gual, who went missing from Orange, California January 1, 2004.
7) Rafael Valles Moreno, who went missing from Escondido, California on August 30, 1982.
8) Raul Cervantes Manzo, who went missing from Santa Ana, California on April 1, 1996.
9) Thomas Michael Rettew, who went missing from Alton, Missouri on September 1, 2002.
10) Tyler Joseph Schladweiler, who went missing from Lake Havasu City, Arizona on October 9, 2002.
11) Victor Ramirez, who went missing from Los Angeles, California on January 23, 1999.
12) Vincent Wayne Beer, who went missing from San Diego, California on January 1, 1999.
13) Wesley Dale Morgan, who went missing from Clinton, Louisiana on May 15, 2001.
CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:
John Doe’s DNA is available for comparison. There is currently an up to $1,000 reward for information about his identity, those of his parents and/or details surrounding his death.
Those with information regarding the case are asked to contact the Homicide Department of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department at either 619-531-2000 or 619-531-2293. Tips can also be called into the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office at 858-694-2895 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-580-8477.
Image Credit: NCMEC