Friday, June 22 , 2018, 3:41 am | Overcast 60º


Local News

Santa Barbara Police Leading Search for Remains of Ramona Price, Missing for 50 Years

Excavation team, including cadaver dogs, are focusing on 'an area of interest' near the Hollister Avenue/Highway 101 overpass

The Santa Barbara Police Department started an excavation search Tuesday morning for the remains of Ramona Price, who went missing in 1961 at age 7.

Authorities recently connected her case with now-deceased serial killer Mack Ray Edwards, who confessed to killing at least six children — and perhaps as many as 18 more — in Southern California in the 1950s and ‘60s.

Edwards was never considered a suspect in the Price case since there was no apparent Santa Barbara connection. But author and researcher Weston DeWalt found one: Edwards buried his victims at highway construction sites where he worked as a heavy-equipment operator and he had worked on the Hollister Avenue overcrossing around the time Goleta girl vanished.

Police Chief Cam Sanchez and cold case Detective Jaycee Hunter held a news conference last week while cadaver dogs trained to find human remains scoured the area near the bridge, later finding an “area of interest” on the northbound side.

On Tuesday, the search for her remains began with the help of a Caltrans equipment team, a Los Angeles police detective familiar with Edwards’ burial sites, a search dog team and an anthropologist. Soil will be removed in thin layers, and the “area of interest” is perhaps the size of a living room, Santa Barbara police Lt. Paul McCaffrey said.

McCaffrey said Price’s family, including an older sister, was notified but did not plan to be at the site.

By coincidence, Caltrans this week is demolishing the concrete overpass and its foundations, which were built before Price disappeared. The concrete roads and ramps leading up to it were not yet built, and authorities are prepared to tear them up and dig underneath, McCaffrey said. They could dig as deep as 20 feet and spend days at the site, with the search dogs smelling for signs of decomposition at each layer.

“There’s no bone detector,” said McCaffrey, emphasizing the importance of the highly trained historical human remains detection dogs, or “cadaver dogs,” for a search like this.

McCaffrey said that even 50 years later, bones should still be intact. If any are found they’ll be collected and analyzed to determine a cause of death, if possible. The anthropologist on site can help date the bones if any are discovered.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >