INDIO, Calif. - Human remains found in Mecca last month have been positively identified as the 19-year-old girl that went missing over a year ago.
Maria Clara Rafael's remains were found March 29th near the intersection of Avenue 60 and Monroe Street. The identity of the remains was unknown until today.
Rafael was reported missing on Tuesday, March 6, 2012 by family members. At the time of her disappearance, Rafael was involved in a child custody dispute with Jose Eduardo Ochoa, the father of her child.
Rafael was last seen on Monday, March 5, 2012 at about 2:00 p.m., waiting for the bus at the College of the Desert Mecca campus. During the missing person investigation, evidence led investigators to believe Rafael was the victim of foul play. The following day, investigators from the Central Homicide Unit located Ochoa's vehicle abandoned in a citrus grove near the Salton Sea.
Jose Eduardo Ochoa is considered the prime suspect in this case and a murder warrant has been issued for his arrest. It is believed that Jose Eduardo Ochoa fled to Mexico.