Riverside County District Attorney Seeks Public Help in Identifying Victim of Serial Killer With Ties to Santa Barbara

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. – The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the final victim of Keith Hunter Jesperson, also known as the Happy Face Killer. Recent advancements in DNA technology have brought investigators closer than ever to identifying the woman, with authorities revealing that she has connections to Santa Barbara County.

The woman’s remains were discovered on August 30, 1992, alongside Highway 95, 7 miles north of Blythe, California. Jesperson, who confessed to the woman’s murder, referred to her as “Claudia” and admitted to killing seven other victims during an interview with a reporter in Portland, Oregon, before later confessing to Riverside County deputies.

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office has disclosed that the woman’s father, Alfonso Sandana Gonzales, a resident of Santa Barbara, is now deceased but was originally from Cameron County, Texas. Gonzales had traveled extensively throughout the United States, including Santa Barbara, Washington, and Oregon.

Furthermore, it is believed that Gonzales was residing in Santa Barbara at the time of the woman’s conception, and there may be other family members in the area. Investigators are also exploring the possibility that the woman’s maternal relatives have ties to the Louisiana or southeast Texas region.

Multiple half-siblings of the victim have been identified, but they do not match the victim’s mother biologically and therefore cannot assist in the identification process, according to Riverside officials.

Jesperson pleaded guilty to the woman’s murder in Indio on January 8, 2010, and was subsequently sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. The Riverside County Regional Cold Case Homicide Team, in conjunction with investigators from the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, is now seeking assistance in identifying the woman and providing closure to her family.

District Attorney Mike Hestrin has stressed the importance of someone coming forward with any information, no matter how insignificant it may seem. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office has urged anyone with potential leads to contact the Cold Case Hotline or submit information via email. Additionally, individuals who believe they might be related to individuals involved in the case or other unsolved homicides are encouraged to consider contacting GedMatch for DNA comparison.

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office is committed to uncovering the woman’s identity and bringing closure to her family, and is urging the public’s assistance in achieving this goal.