The Santa Cruz Police Department announces a positive identification made in the nearly 20 year old case dubbed “Pogonip Jane”. Our victim has been identified as Kori Joanne Lamaster. Kori was 17 years old at the time of her death.
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. The victim was not identified and had not been reported as missing.
The identification was finally confirmed through fingerprints obtained from the victim at the time of autopsy. The autopsy prints were matched to a fingerprint card taken when the victim was very young. The fingerprint card was held by the family and used for the comparison to the prints in our case file.
The case was originally investigated by Butch Baker prior to his promotion to Sergeant. Butch was assigned as the lead investigator when he worked in the Investigations Unit as a Detective. When Butch returned to the Investigations Unit after his promotion, he picked up where he left off in pursuing an identity for “Pogonip Jane”. 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. It means a great deal to us to be able to bring one piece of closure to this family, and complete the work Butch started.
Over the years, Detectives worked with Sheriff’s Office volunteer Chris Smith and 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.
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 and trying to track down Kori’s father to complete the DNA match and identification. Detective Cline was led to a sister in the state of Washington, who happened to locate a fingerprint card obtained from Kori when she was a young child. Detective Cline located a fingerprint card from the autopsy where three prints were successfully lifted from the badly decomposing body. Earlier this week, Detective Cline was notified the prints are a match, and “Pogonip Jane” was now identified as Kori Joanne Lamaster.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end here. The police department still has an active homicide case we are working. We are 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 our investigation, we identified a father and son who were witnessed to have traveled with Kori around the time of her death. 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.