June 18, 2008

Cadaver Dog Leads To Missing Woman's Remains In Mojave Desert

KNBC (NBC4 Los Angeles

Video: KNBC Los Angeles news story

BURBANK, Calif. -- It took nearly eight years, but the family of a Southern California woman finally knows what happened to her, KNBC's Patrick Healy reported.

A cadaver dog -- the same dog used in the search for more victims at Charles Manson's last hideout -- led investigators to her Mojave Desert grave.

Kathryn Barrett, a 47-year-old mother of four from Baldy Mesa, Calif., had been seen at a Phelan, Calif., minimart, and then was seen later for the last time, on June 21, 2000, standing with two men by her car. Her husband reported her missing the next day, and her Volvo was found days later in a ravine in Wrightwood, Calif.

But there was no sign of Barrett, and the case went cold, although Deputy D.A. John Thomas continued working on it with sheriff's detectives.

Two suspects -- Chris Sterling Tolliver, 30, and Guy Bruce Johnson, 34, both of Phelan -- were eventually identified as the men last seen with Barrett and were arrested. Both men remain jailed, pending charges.

Based on information from their investigation, detectives concluded that Barrett may have been murdered and buried somewhere on a 4-acre parcel of land, at a remote site in the Phelan-El Mirage area of the Mojave Desert.

The cadaver dog was brought in, narrowing the search. After four days of digging at a a remote San Bernardino County site, the remains of Kathryn Barrett were found in a shallow grave. Dental records confirmed the identity of the remains.