SANTA CLARITA ( – Human remains found in Santa Clarita earlier this month were identified as belonging to a woman who disappeared earlier this year.

The remains were identified by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner as those of 26-year-old Maricela Garcia of Tarzana, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported Wednesday. The sheriff’s department told CBS2 it could take more than six months to determine the cause of death.

Garcia was reported missing Jan. 12. According to Los Angeles police, she was shopping with her younger sister at a Goodwill in Reseda when she said she was going outside to have a smoke. She never returned. Her car was found in the parking lot with her purse inside.

Garcia’s remains were discovered in Santa Clarita on the afternoon of March 7 by a man walking his dog.

“I just want to say that she was a great person, she was beautiful inside and out,” Garcia’s mother, also named Maricela Garcia, told CBS2 Wednesday.

Sheriff’s homicide detectives are continuing to investigate.

“I just want to say that those who are in charge, that they will continue with the investigation to find out who was doing this horrible crime to my daughter,” Garcia said.


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