UK & World News
Panama Skull Identified As California Woman
Skeletal remains found this month in Panama have been identified as those of an American woman who disappeared there in 2011.
DNA testing confirmed that the remains - a skull and some bones - found on the island province of Bocas del Toro came from Yvonne Lee Baldelli, Panamanian officials said.
Ms Baldelli went to Panama with boyfriend Brian Brimager in September 2011.
The 42-year-old from Laguna Nigel, California, was last seen in November that year. Her family reported her missing the following January.
"The whole family has been very sad and desperate," her sister, Michelle Faust, told the AP News Agency. "We didn't know where Yvonne was.
"The good thing about today is that once the evidence (from the remains) is studied we will be able to bring her home."
Forensic experts analysed blood samples and dental records to identify the remains, but the cause of death remains unclear and further testing will be carried out.
The skull and bones were found on August 20 in a bag by a man who was cutting bushes, prosecutors said.
"I saw the bag bit I thought it was robbed from the tourist beach," said Rigoberto Jole.
"I cut it with a machete and then I opened it - and there was a human head."
The family of Ms Baldelli, a clothing designer, said she was frequently out of touch so they did not immediately suspect anything was wrong.
Panama police say Mr Brimager left for Costa Rica and the US about 10 days after last being seen with Ms Baldelli.
Ms Faust said Mr Brimager is being held in California on obstruction of justice charges related to her disappearance.
Last year, FBI agents and Panamanian forensic specialists found traces of blood on the walls and floor of the El Sapo hostel in the Bocas del Toro archipelago, a popular tourist spot where Ms Baldelli was last seen.