In August 1998, the remains of an unidentified individual were discovered in San Juan Capistrano, California. A research biologist for the Rancho Mission Viejo Company discovered what he believed to be human remains in a remote area of a southeastern Orange County (OC). OC Sheriff’s Office Homicide investigators, Orange County Crime Lab (OCCL) personnel, and Coroner personnel responded to the scene. Initially, investigators did not discover any indication that the decedent was the victim of a homicide.
The following day, OC Sheriff Homicide investigators, OCCL, and Coroner personnel returned to the location to conduct a more extensive search of the area, but no additional evidence was located. Outside resources called in by the Coroner and Homicide Investigators conducted an initial examination of the recovered remains and estimated that they belonged to a Caucasian or Hispanic man who was over 40 years old, and approximately 5’6” to 5’8” tall.
In September 1998, an additional search of the area where the remains were initially found was conducted resulting in the discovery of a shallow grave where additional human remains and clothing were found. OC Sheriff personnel once again responded to the scene to collect the additional evidence. Over the next several months, OC Sheriff Homicide investigators attempted to identify the man, but despite their efforts, were unsuccessful. Details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP7688.
In January 2023, using funding provided by the Roads to Justice (RTJ) program, and working in partnership with the California Department of Justice, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office submitted forensic evidence to Othram in The Woodlands, Texas in hopes that advanced DNA testing and forensic genetic genealogy could help generate new leads and identify the man. Othram scientists successfully developed a DNA extract from the forensic evidence and used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the unknown man. The DNA profile was returned to investigators who began genealogical research in hopes of identifying the man.
In November 2023, investigators tentatively identified the man as 54-year-old Donald Raymond Loar, who had been reported missing to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in February 1998. Loar was last seen in the city of Bellflower, and he reportedly was wearing clothing similar to the clothing recovered near the remains of John Doe. In early December 2023, OC Sheriff investigators met with representatives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to learn additional details regarding Loar’s disappearance.
OC Sheriff investigators then met with Loar’s family and obtained a sample of their DNA for comparison purposes. On January 24, 2024, the California Department of Justice confirmed the remains recovered in August 1998 belonged to Donald Raymond Loar.
Now, investigators are focusing their attention on discovering the circumstances surrounding Loar’s death. Anyone with information related to this case is encouraged to contact Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS or crimestoppers.org.
In January 2023, San Clemente Jane Doe (2017) was identified through the collaborative efforts of Orange County Sheriff's Office, California Department of Justice, and Othram. Funding for this case was also made available by the Roads to Justice (RTJ) program.