Redondo Beach police reached out to the public on June 26, for help with their investigation into the death of a woman whose remains were found at a construction site in 2001 and was listed as a Jane Doe until familial DNA identified her earlier this year.
According to police, the remains of Catherine Parker-Johnson were found Aug. 29, 2001, at a backyard construction site in the 1600 block of Wollacott Street in Redondo Beach, but investigators were never able to identify her.
The death remained a mystery, and in January 2019, the Redondo Beach Police Department Cold Case Investigations Unit reopened the case and began working with the DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit group that helps identify missing people by working with DNA collected at crime scenes.
Based on the group’s preliminary work, a DNA comparison test was conducted in March of this year on two women who were subsequently determined to be the sister and daughter of the dead woman, who was then tentatively identified as Parker-Johnson, police said.
Later that month, a familial DNA sample collected in Tennessee was sent to the California Department of Justice, and state investigators in April confirmed the remains were those of Parker-Johnson, who had disappeared in 1981 at age 24.
According to Redondo Beach police, Parker-Johnson had left Tennessee to relocate in Inglewood and had never been reported missing. Police said family members last had contact with her sometime during May of 1981, and the last record of any other personal contact with Parker-Johnson was on Aug. 31, 1981, in Lennox.
Police have classified the case as an active homicide investigation. No cause of death was indicated. At a news conference, Redondo Beach police Chief Joe Hoffman said investigators were faced with a number of obstacles in their efforts to solve the crime.
“The crime occurred so long ago, and the condition that the partial skeleton was found, and the residence had turned over,” Hoffman said. “There is very limited information about the actual direct connection to that location. However, that has been explored by the investigators. And the little bits and pieces about the location — the residential area — and the time frame have provided some useful information but no direct connection to that residence.”
Detectives urged anyone who may have known Parker-Johnson or who has any information about her movements from Tennessee to the Southland to contact Detectives John Skipper or Rick Petersen at 310-379-2477, ext. 2714, or by texting 310-937-6675. Email tips can be sent to [email protected].