Remains found in northern California in 2010 have been confirmed as those of a Swedish exchange student who disappeared in 1982.
Coroner's officials said Monday that seven bones discovered in a canyon in Fremont were matched to Elisabeth Martinsson, 21, who was going to the College of Marin and living with a family in nearby Greenbrae when she disappeared.
Alameda County sheriff's Sgt. Patricia Wilson told the Marin Independent Journal that the Justice Department had matched the remains to Martinsson this past November by using dental records. It was not immediately clear why authorities had waited months to release the information.
Martinsson vanished on Jan. 17, 1982 after going shopping in a yellow Volkswagen Rabbit she had borrowed from her host family. Ten days later, authorities found the car in Boise City, Okla. with a man and woman inside.
The man, 31-year-old Henry Lee Coleman of Los Angeles, had previously served ten years in prison after being convicted of rape in Oklahoma and was wanted in San Bernadino County, Calif. on a robbery warrant. The woman, 26-year-old Sabrina Ann Johnson of Seattle, had been picked up by Coleman before they drove east.
Coleman was convicted of auto theft and sentenced to five years in prison, but authorities could not tie him to Martinsson's death.
Coleman claimed that he had bought the Volkswagen from a man he met at a San Francisco bar. However, the Independent Journal reported that a witness at the auto theft trial testified that she saw a man resembling Coleman approach a woman resembling Martinsson near where the student was last seen and they got in a car like the one Martinsson was driving.
Marin County sheriff's officials and Fremont police are collaborating on how to proceed with the case and have requested more tests from the Department of Justice, sheriff's Lt. Jamie Scardina told the Independent Journal. It was not immediately clear whether Coleman was still alive.
Martinsson's remains were cremated and the ashes were to be sent to her family in Uddevalla, Sweden, about 50 miles from the Norwegian border. No clothes or other objects belonging to her have been found.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.