Missing Laguna Hills Woman's Body Found In Cleveland National Forest

(FOX 11 / CNS) - Orange County sheriff's investigators preliminarily identified a decomposed body found in the Cleveland National Forest as that of a 27-year-old Laguna Hills woman reported missing in mid-February.

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A group of biologists working for Caltrans discovered the body about 10 p.m. Monday in a remote area one mile east of the San Juan Capistrano Fire-Ranger station, on Ortega Highway near Hot Springs Road, according to Orange County sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock.

Authorities tentatively identified the victim as Erica Alonso, but were awaiting an autopsy scheduled for Wednesday to make an official confirmation, Hallock said.

"Preliminarily, were able to do a visual," he said. "There are some tattoos, that we're able to make comparisons with.

"We are not not able to confirm it, without making comparisons to fingerprints or dental records, but we feel comfortable with the information that we have that it is Miss Alonso," Hallock told a Los Angeles television station late in the day.

Alonzo's father rushed today to the location where the body was found, about a mile off the highway near a creek. The site is in unincorporated Orange County, with the closest city being San Juan Capistrano.

The Alonso family last week announced a $5,000 reward for information to help find the missing woman. There have been tips resulting from that reward, her brother said.

"Either way if it's her or not, it's going to be a very sad day for a family out there," Isaac Alonso Jr. told City News Service said before sheriff's officials announced the tentative identification of the victim.

"If we're the family that has to carry that burden, then so be it, but we're hoping that it's not. But it's like I've been telling everybody: today is a very sad day." Erica Alonso was last seen leaving her boyfriend's home in Irvine about 3:45 a.m. on Feb. 15. Authorities located her white 2014 Honda Civic EX near Cedarbrook and Redwood in the Glenwood Park neighborhood of Aliso Viejo.

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