MISSION VIEJO (CBSLA.com) — Orange County sheriff’s officials confirmed Tuesday that a decomposed body found in Orange County was identified as a 28-year-old Laguna Hills woman who had been missing since February.

A group of biologists working for Caltrans discovered the body of Erica Alonso Monday night in a creek bed, located one mile east of the San Juan Capistrano Fire/Ranger Station on the Ortega Highway near Hot Springs Road, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

“It wasn’t very far in terms of distance off the Ortega Highway,” Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Hallock said. “(She) was down in an embankment, kind of a ravine or a creek. I think investigators are very hopeful that they will uncover some evidence that will be very useful during the autopsy.”

Deputies waited until daylight to bring the body out from the rugged terrain due to the area being inaccessible by foot, officials said.

Shortly after 9 a.m., homicide detectives were sent to assist with the investigation.

Coroner’s investigators have not determined a manner or cause of death, but an autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Alonso was reported missing in mid-February after she left her boyfriend’s home in Irvine. Her family offered a $5,000 reward on Wednesday for information that would lead to her location.

“We never thought that it was going to end like this,” Alonso’s father Issac said. “She had goals and somebody just broke that in pieces. Whoever did it, I want them to pay for this.”

(©2015 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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