Riverside Co. cold case: Mother of 4 identified as homicide victim after 27 years

A cold case is suddenly warming up in the Inland Empire.  

Juana Rosas-Zagal (Riverside Co. Sheriff's Department)

On Monday, Riverside County officials announced the identity of a woman whose body was found along the 60 Freeway in the Moreno Valley area 27 years ago.

The victim was identified by authorities as Juana Rosas-Zagal. The mother of four daughters was 41 years old when she died and was reported missing from the Los Angeles area, investigators said.

On Jan. 27, 1996, Rosas-Zagal’s body was found on the 60 Freeway east of Gilman Springs Road. Detectives said the remains showed signs of trauma, but the body was found along with expensive jewelry, so a robbery was ruled out. The case remained unsolved for decades due to a lack of investigative leads.

Detectives were initially unable to identify her and a forensic artist put out a composite sketch in hopes someone would recognize her. 

(Riverside Co. Sheriff's Department)

Her daughters tried to keep the faith through the years but were on the verge of losing hope in finding answers on their mother’s whereabouts.

On Jan. 27, 1996, Juana Rosas-Zagal’s body was found on the 60 Freeway east of Gilman Springs Road.  (Riverside County Sherriff's Department)

Using modern DNA technology, investigators were able to find a close ancestral link and positively identified Rosas-Zagal in December 2022.  

Now, the search is on for her killer and Riverside County detectives sought the public’s help with the investigation. Detectives believe there is someone out there who can provide more information on her disappearance.

Those with more information are asked to call 951-955-0740 or 951-955-2777.