SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A 27-year-old Laguna Hills woman who went missing and was later found dead off Ortega Highway near San Juan Capistrano died from a drug overdose, and she is not believed to be a homicide victim, sheriff’s officials said Wednesday.
Erica Alonso was reported missing in mid-February, prompting public calls for help from her family and sheriff’s investigators until her decomposed body was found April 27 in the Cleveland National Forest, a mile east of the San Juan Capistrano Fire-Ranger station on Ortega Highway, near Hot Springs Road.
Biologists working for Caltrans found the body.
“We don’t believe it’s a homicide,” sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Hallock said. “But we’re not in a position to say for sure it’s an accident.”
Alonso had a lethal dose of alcohol and the drug GHB in her system, according to the autopsy, Hallock said. The cause of death is officially an overdose, but the manner is considered undetermined.
“The investigation is ongoing as to what happened and how she ended up off Ortega Highway,” Hallock said.
When her body was found investigators say there were no obvious signs of violence on Alonso.
Alonso was last seen leaving her boyfriend’s home in Irvine about 3:45 a.m. Feb. 15. Authorities found her white 2014 Honda Civic EX near Cedarbrook and Redwood in the Glenwood Park neighborhood of Aliso Viejo on March 25.
Alonso’s family, who suspect she was a victim of foul play, have been demanding answers from authorities about the investigation since her body was found. The news that Alonso died of a drug overdose was a surprise to her father.
“We were not expecting something like that,” Isaac Alonso Sr. said. “It’s hard to believe because she didn’t do heavy drugs. I knew she did it, but it was lightly, not addicted or anything like that.”
His daughter’s cause of death “raises more questions” for the family, he said.
“Somebody did this and we need to find out why would they try to get rid of the body,” he said. “If they knew what was happening, they could call911 and ask for help or something and they didn’t do that.”
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