Jan 5, 2022

Thanks to Forensic Genealogy, Missing California Mom ID’d as Woman Found Buried in Makeshift Grave in 1994

The remains of a murdered California woman, found buried in a shallow grave in the Coachella Valley desert nearly 30 years ago, have finally been identified with the help of DNA evidence.

Her name was Patricia Joan Cavallaro.

On Oct. 24, 1994, scrap metal collectors near Thousand Palms, California, stumbled upon a makeshift desert grave containing a partially nude body, the Riverside County District Attorney explained. The older woman was wrapped in a white plastic sheet, and investigators estimated she’d been dead for approximately three weeks.

Her death was subsequently ruled a homicide by the Riverside County Coroner’s Office, even though her autopsy results proved inconclusive. At the time, DNA from the woman’s decomposing remains yielded no evidentiary leads as to her possible identity.

“They came out and processed the scene, and gathered whatever they could possibly get, which was really not much,” according to Ryan Bodmer, Regional Cold Case Homicide Team supervisor for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

Details may be found at