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Slain Woman's Remains Identified 17 Years After Her Legs Were Found In San Diego Dumpster
Laurie Potter’s severed legs were found in a dumpster on Oct. 5, 2003.
A California woman whose remains were found in a dumpster nearly two decades ago was allegedly murdered by her husband, officials announced last week.
Laurie Diane Potter, was positively identified as the woman whose legs were found crammed in a dumpster in Rancho San Diego in 2003, authorities said. Her husband, Jack Potter, was arrested on May 12 in Rancho Cucamonga in connection with her murder, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office.
On Oct. 5, 2003, Potter’s body parts were recovered from a dumpster. No other human remains were found at the scene. An autopsy indicated the remains belonged to an adult female. Her cause of death was unknown.
In June 2020, homicide cold case investigators began using investigative genetic genealogical techniques to solve the case. Late last year, authorities identified Laurie Potter’s adult son. Shortly after, detectives began an “intense” investigation into Potter’s life at the time of her death.
“Once we identified Laurie Potter, we went back through her life and tried to identify who she was, where she was living, who were her friends or family during that time frame,” Sheriff’s Lt. Thomas Seaver told reporters on Friday.
Investigators said there was substantial and conclusive evidence that Jack Potter killed his spouse but declined to go into specifics.
“This is an ongoing criminal investigation so we can’t go into details, but we determined that there was substantial cause to believe Jack Potter murdered Laurie,” Seaver said.
In 2003, the married couple was living in Temecula, California. Laurie Potter was 54 at the time. She was never reported missing. Friends and family of the slain woman hadn’t heard from her in years but were alarmed to learn she’d been killed, authorities said.
“The victim’s family — and I’ve spoken to them — are very happy that I, number one, identified Laurie,” Troy DuGall, one of the case’s lead investigators, said. “Because they thought she was just living somewhere. Nobody knew. And they’re extremely happy, once they get over the grief of Laurie being deceased, that we identified and arrested the suspect. So it’s bittersweet.”
Investigators praised detectives' use of DNA technology and genetic genealogy to identify Laurie Potter.
“Laurie was never reported as a missing person,” Seaver added. “This case would have unlikely to have ever been solved without the use of investigative genetic genealogy.”
County authorities noted it was the first time they’d used the technology to identify a murder victim.
“In this case, the goal was to find relatives whose own DNA profile matched those of an unidentified victim of homicide,” the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department added in a department news release. Once the victim’s profile was developed, it was uploaded into commercial genealogy sites that allow law enforcement agencies to participate.”
Detectives are now hoping additional witnesses may come forward.
"The Cold Case Team would like to talk to anybody that knew Jack or Laurie Potter from the mid-80s until present,” Seaver said.
Authorities declined to release additional information. A spokesperson for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department didn’t immediately respond to Oxygen.com’s questions surrounding the case on Monday.
Jack Potter was booked into a San Diego County jail. He’s being held without bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on May 20, according to online jail records. It’s unclear if he’s retained legal representation.
Anyone with information related to the cold case is asked to contact the San Diego County Sheriff’s Homicide line at 858-285- 6330.