Remains that were discovered in Orange County 26 years ago have been identified, authorities announced Tuesday.
The remains were confirmed to be Donald Raymond Loar, 54, a man who had been reported missing in February 1998.
On Aug. 29, 1998, a research biologist for the Rancho Mission Viejo Company discovered human remains in a remote area of Orange County.
In September 1998, a second search was conducted in the remote area where crews discovered a shallow grave containing clothing and additional human remains. At the time, authorities believed the man was either Caucasian or Latino, over 40 years old, and around 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall.
Investigators worked for months to find leads on possible identities, but the trail went cold.
In January 2023, O.C. Sheriff investigators and the California Department of Justice Laboratory submitted the man’s forensic samples to a laboratory in Texas. A genetic profile was developed and using publicly accessible genetic databases, investigators began their genealogical research in hopes of identifying the man.
In November 2023, investigators were able to tentatively identify the remains as Loar, a man who had been reported missing to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department in 1998.
Loar was last seen in Bellflower and he was reportedly wearing clothing similar to the ones discovered near the remains.
Investigators eventually met with Loar’s family and obtained a DNA sample for comparison.
On Jan. 24, 2024, the California Department of Justice confirmed the remains discovered in 1998 belonged to Loar.
Questions remain over the circumstances surrounding Loar’s death. Investigators are still working to piece together the events leading up to the man’s disappearance.
Anyone with information on this case is asked to call Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS or submit an online tip at occrimestoppers.org.