LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — For eight months, one local woman has worked tirelessly in an effort to discovery the identity of an unidentified woman who died in a car accident in 1999.
Jessica Aves, 27, was originally looking for a job online when she was led to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s website.
What she came across there was hundreds of unidentified persons. One in particular, identified only as Number 1999-07845, stood out to her.
“People don’t come from nothing,” Aves said. “She had to come from somewhere.”
The deceased was an asian woman, 5 foot 3, and 146 pounds.
Coroners never decided her hair and eye color, because 98% of her body had been charred.
The woman was driving along the Southbound 101 Freeway near Western Avenue in November of 1999. Investigators believe the driver, at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Galant, stopped for unknown reasons on the freeway, before being hit from behind, at which point the vehicle caught on fire.
Aves, determined to uncover more about the woman, has found herself unable to get the victim out of her mind.
“Her parents are still alive probably. She probably still has family,” Aves said. “I mean, what if she was a student here who came from somewhere else and never returned home?”
Since the California Highway Patrol only keeps records open for accident investigations beyond 10 years for special circumstances, Aves decided to begin her own investigation.
An autopsy report provided Aves with a number of clues.
“I had [the] license plate of the vehicle and the person who they did the notification to,” Aves said.
The car had been registered to a man with the last name “Yoo”. However, Mr. Yoo had claimed that he did not know the woman.
Aves continued her investigation at the DMV, at which point she discovered that the car’s registration, which had been to Mr. Yoo, had lapsed about four months before the accident.
Naturally, Aves wanted to pay a visit to Mr. Yoo to get more information on who may have been driving the car.
However, it turned out that Mr. Yoo had not been in the country for months. His daughter was available, but said that she knows nothing about the car or the accident.
Despite the dead ends of the case, Aves is resilient, and refuses to give up.
“There’s some saying that the name is the only thing they can’t take from you, and you only become relevant if your name is said one last time,” Aves said. “And to me, that’s a powerful thing.”