Officials have identified bone fragments discovered last year in a remote area of Cochise County as belonging to Lydia “Janet” Castrejon, a New Mexico woman reported missing in 2015, her family has announced.
“The search is over. May she rest in peace,” Castrejon’s family posted on social media. “We will always miss her and carry her memory in our hearts.”
Castrejon, then 44, was reported missing June 19, 2015 during a planned group outing with family and friends to the Chiricahua Mountains in the southeast corner of Cochise County. Investigators were told Castrejon was with her mother, who stopped to use a U.S. Forest Service bathroom at the Rustler Park campground.
When the mother came out, her daughter was gone. A days-long search undertaken by local, state, and federal authorities was heightened by the fact Castrejon had cognitive issues due to brain damage suffered years earlier. The family stated it was their belief she had been abducted, noting she weighed 250 pounds, had limited mobility, and poor vision.
The case remained dormant until August 2018 when the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office was informed that bone fragments were discovered in the area along with a small piece of fabric.
The items were turned over to the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner for identification, but the small size of the fragments made it impossible to establish gender or age. The medical examiner then arranged for special forensics testing at the Center for Human Identification, an accredited forensic laboratory operated at the University of North Texas.
After several months, UNT was able to develop a genetic profile of the bone sample. It was compared to Castrejon’s DNA, triggering the match.
Castrejon lived in New Mexico with her parents. Her disappearance was featured on an episode of NBC’s Dateline and a $20,000 reward was offered, but sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Capas said no one came forward to report seeing Castrejon outside the restroom or in the campground area.
Capas recently confirmed that authorities in 2015 conducted consensual searches of at least two vehicles belonging to Castrejon family members. No evidence of foul play was found.