Santa Cruz ‘Pogonip Jane’ cold case murder takes ironic twist
Santa Cruz police reported Thursday they have finally identified a cold case murder victim named ‘Pogonip Jane’ as a missing 17-year-old girl, but the investigation has a tragic twist to it.
In a news release, authorities said fingerprints obtained from the victim at the time of autopsy have been used to identify the body as that of Kori Joanne Lamaster.
The case was dubbed “Pogonip Jane” when the body of a young female was found partially buried in Pogonip Park by 2 hikers on January 29, 1994.
But that’s where the story takes an ironic twist.
The case was originally investigated by Butch Baker, who was killed last February along with Detective Elizabeth Butler as they followed up on a sexual assault investigation at a residence in Santa Cruz.
The suspect who was inside the residence, opened the door and immediately shot and fatally wounded both officers.
He then fled but was located about 30 minutes later. He was shot and killed when he opened fire on responding officers.
In the release, Santa Cruz police said the case haunted Baker who had a “strong desire to bring notification and closure to the victim’s family, whoever and wherever they are.”
After his death, his fellow detectives were determined to identify the girl in his memory.
Sheriff’s Office volunteer Chris Smith and detectives tried a number of strategies to identify the victim.
One of those strategies included the production of a clay model reconstruction from the victim’s skull. Investigators hoped to produce a reasonable likeness that might produce leads. Investigators even generated an Internet and Facebook page in hopes of generating leads.
Authorities said a break in the case came when a familial DNA hit was made in October of this year.
Although Kori went missing in 1993, her family didn’t file a missing person report with the Pacifica Police Department until 2007.
In 2008, the family submitted a DNA sample to Pacifica Police for their case. The State Department of Justice lab notified the Santa Cruz Police Department of a possible familial match in October, 2013.
Detective Bruce Cline went to work contacting the family, trying to track down Kori’s father to complete the DNA match and identification.
He was led to sister of the victim in the state of Washington, who happened to locate a fingerprint card obtained from Kori when she was a young child.
Cline then located a fingerprint card from the autopsy where three prints were successfully lifted from the badly decomposing body.
Earlier this week, Cline was notified the prints were a match.
Santa Cruz police said they were looking for information from anyone who might have had contact with Kori as she traveled through the Santa Cruz area in and around 1993.
In the course of their investigation, Santa Cruz detectives have identified a father and son who were witnessed to have traveled with Kori around the time of her death.
These individuals are “persons of interest” in our investigation. They have been identified as Wayne White (the father) and Greg White (son). Greg is since deceased, but Wayne lives in Tennessee.