PANAMA CITY (AP) — Panamanian officials have identified the skeletal remains of a California woman who disappeared in 2011 in Panama after arriving in the country with her boyfriend, authorities said Wednesday.
DNA testing confirmed that the remains found last week on the island province of Bocas del Toro came from Yvonne Lee Baldelli, who was last seen there in November 2011, prosecutor Vielka Gisela Broce said.
Broce said a man who was cutting bushes found a bag containing Baldelli’s remains on Aug. 20 and contacted police.
The 42-year-old woman from Laguna Nigel, California, arrived in Panama with boyfriend Brian Brimager in September 2011. Her family reported her missing the following January.
Baldelli’s family has said Baldelli, a clothing designer, was frequently out of touch so they did not immediately suspect anything was wrong.
Panama police say Brimager left Panama for Costa Rica and the United States about 10 days after last being seen with Baldelli.
Her sister, Michelle Faust, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Brimager is being held in California on obstruction of justice charges.
“The whole family has been very sad and desperate … we didn’t know where Yvonne was,” Faust said. “The good thing about today is that once the evidence (from the remains) is studied we will be able to bring her home.”
Panamanian investigators and FBI agents are working on the case.
Last year, FBI agents and Panamanian forensic specialists found traces of blood on the walls and floor of the hostel El Sapo in the Bocas del Toro archipelago, which is the popular tourist spot where Baldelli was last seen.