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The discovery last week of the remains of a teenager in Northern California have been positively identified as a 19-year-old who vanished from Oakland nearly three months, officials confirmed.
Tatiana Dugger, 19, disappeared in January. The Oroville teenager's body was found hundreds of miles away in Siskiyou County, near the Oregon border, by county authorities last week.
On March 28, a hiker reported finding a deceased female to the United States Forest Service nearby U.S. Route 97 about eight miles northeast of Weed, California, according to the Butte County Sheriff’s Office. The densely wooded area is roughly 40 miles east of Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
On April 1, an autopsy was conducted on the body; a rapid DNA test confirmed the remains belonged to Dugger.
At this point, it’s unclear if foul play is suspected in Dugger’s death. A cause and manner of death weren’t immediately released. Authorities, however, indicated it appeared Dugger’s remains may have been in the deserted area for an “extended period.”
“The deceased person was female and was located in a remote area off the roadway, and she appeared to have been there for an extended period of time,” the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Investigators didn’t disclose any additional details.
“This is an ongoing investigation and additional circumstances surrounding Tatiana’s death will not be released at this time,” the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office added.
Dugger’s family originally reported her missing on Jan. 9. Her last known location was Oakland, according to telephone records investigators accessed after interviewing the teenager’s family. It’s unclear how Dugger may have ended up nearly 300 miles away from where she disappeared.
Dugger had recently moved to Los Angeles shortly before she went missing, Sacramento television station KTXL reported. Her family said she’d been staying at a hotel in East Oakland at the time of her disappearance. A welfare check of the room, conducted by police, didn’t yield any evidence suggesting foul play or abduction.
On New Year’s Eve, however, Dugger’s family said she’d left her family’s home and drove to Oakland with an unidentified man.
"She left with him and went down to Oakland, so she was basically in Oakland for about a week," her sister, Savannah Moreno, told KTVU.
She added that their mother last spoke to Dugger on Jan. 7 and that “everything seemed fine." The teenager's social media accounts, however, went dark shortly afterward and her phone would go straight to voicemail, according to her sister.
"She's never, ever gone without talking to us," Moreno told the Oakland station. "Somebody in the family talks to her every single day, whether it be text message, Snapchat, or Instagram."
Dugger’s family previously pleaded for any help in locating the missing teen.
"Anything, whether they think it's big or small, we don't know, that could lead us to finding her," Moreno said. "At this point, we need all the help we can get."
A number of county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies assisted in the investigation into the missing teen. Anyone with information related to Dugger’s disappearance or death is urged to contact the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office 24-hour tip line at 530-841-2900.
“We encourage our communities to contact BCSO, OPD, or SCSO if they have additional information about the death of Ms. Dugger,” Butte County Sheriff’s Office added.
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