HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBS)  — Huntington Beach investigators Tuesday reported they have a solid lead on identifying a woman who was raped and murdered in 1968.

Police turned to Facebook and the news media last week to generate leads on the woman’s identity and who killed her. A sketch of the woman was released last week, along with photographs found near the body that were later found not to have any connection with the victim.

But the social networking did lead to one person saying they recognized the woman in the sketch, Huntington Beach police Lt. Russell Reinhart said.

Police also showed the person photos of the victim and were told they looked like a woman whose name was “Rosie.”

“This person was a friend of Rosie back in 1968, but had only known her a few months,” Reinhart said.

Rosie had an Italian last name, Reinhart added.

“Rosie did not show up for work one day and no one knew what happened to her,” Reinhart said.

Police told CBS 2’s Michelle Gile that “Rosie just up and disappeared.”

Police believe Rosie lived in the Long Beach area for several months before she disappeared in 1968. She was a waitress at the Circus Room bar that was in downtown Long Beach.

Investigators theorize Rosie left New York in 1967 to live in Long Beach. She left her husband and 2-year-old boy nicknamed “John John” behind, Reinhart said.

Rosie also had two older brothers who lived in the New York area and she hailed from Brooklyn or the Bronx, Reinhart said.

New York police are helping Huntington Beach investigators, Reinhart said.

The body was found March 14, 1968, face-down in a ditch in a field at Newland Street and Yorktown Avenue in Huntington Beach, Reinhart said.

Some boys playing in the area found the body, he said.

The killer beat and raped the woman, eventually slashing her throat, Reinhart said. Detectives assigned to the case nearly 43 years ago found some tire tracks in the area and theorized that the woman did not live in the area.

In 2001, Orange County Crime Lab investigators were able to work up a profile of the killer from DNA evidence, but so far it has not led to any suspects, Reinhart said.

The victim was white or Latina, 20-25 years old, about 5 feet 4 inches and 140 pounds, with dark shoulder-length hair and brown eyes, police said. She was wearing a flower-print blouse, purple capri slacks, a black three-quarter length coat and flat, loafer-type shoes.

She had a ring with a light-blue square stone in a silver-colored setting. Her front teeth were crooked, and she was missing several others, police said.

Anyone with information was asked to call Det. Mike Reilly at (714) 536-5940.

 (©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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