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Home / Juana Rosas-Zagal

Riverside County cold case murder victim ID’d after nearly 30 years

A murder victim whose body was dumped on the side of the Moreno Valley (60) Freeway in an area known as the Badlands was finally identified after more than 27 years of trying to find clues as to who she was, authorities said Monday.

Juana Rosas-Zagal, 41, of Los Angeles, was confirmed to be the individual whose remains were located on the morning of Jan. 27, 1996, roughly 1.5 miles east of Gilman Springs Road, between Moreno Valley and Beaumont, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

The area is known as the Badlands because of its rugged, barren terrain and lack of frontage roads near the freeway.

The cold case murder had been profiled by the DA’s office and sheriff’s department at least twice before in an attempt to generate leads over the past few years.

“Her body was found on the side of the road in a trash pile, and we believe she had been killed at that location (hours earlier),” sheriff’s Master Investigator Jason Corey said in January 2022. “We’re hoping that somebody will come forward and provide us with some more investigative leads and bring justice for her loved ones.”

According to the county Regional Cold Case Homicide Team, investigators ultimately utilized various DNA screening technologies, including Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy, which accesses direct-to-consumer databases to track down ancestral ties, as well as the National Missing & Unidentified Persons System.

“The California Department of Justice-Riverside Crime Lab … was then able to positively identify the victim as Juana Rosas-Zagal,” according to a DA’s office statement.

The victim had four daughters, “who had nearly lost hope of knowing the whereabouts of their mother,” the agency stated.

Investigators did not disclose the exact cause of Rosas-Zagal’s death. Robbery did not appear to be a motive.

According to the DA’s office, there were a number of pieces of jewelry found on the victim. They included a gold-colored religious pendant with Jesus on one side and the Virgin Mary on the other, as well as two rings — one multicolored, and the other appearing to be an engagement ring. There was additionally a Japona watch and a necklace with a rose attached.

“Detectives believe there are still friends, neighbors or colleagues of Juana who may be able to provide more information to help clarify Juana’s disappearance,” the DA’s office said.

Anyone with information was asked to contact the investigative team at 951-955-0740 or 951-955-2777.

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