Mystery of dismembered body hidden in suitcase partially solved after 50 years

San Diego, California - A murder mystery featuring a gruesome discovery made by two fishermen 50 years ago in Southern California has been partially solved.

DNA analysis has revealed Arminda Grangeia Rodrigues da Silva Ribeiro was the woman dismembered and stuffed into a suitcase discovered in San Diego Bay in 1973.
DNA analysis has revealed Arminda Grangeia Rodrigues da Silva Ribeiro was the woman dismembered and stuffed into a suitcase discovered in San Diego Bay in 1973.  © Collage: San Diego Police Department

On June 13, 1973, a woman's dismembered body was found in an orange suitcase and several plastic bags in San Diego Bay. The fishermen initially saw a leg floating in the water before finding the case and green garbage bags washed up on the shore between Laurel Street and the US Coast Guard Station.

"A half inch mole on the left thigh of a dismembered murder victim was the only clue to her identity," a wire story reported at the time.

"We have to identify the victim before we can even take the first step in solving this murder," a police inspector said.

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Fifty years later, that first step is a little closer after DNA analysis revealed the victim was a woman named Arminda Grangeia Rodrigues da Silva Ribeiro. Ribeiro was born in 1943 and emigrated from Portugal to Newark, New Jersey, with her family, private forensic genealogy firm Ortham recently reported.

Police say Ribeiro was married with two children. She also worked at a trailer fabrication company in Newark in 1973, but her reason for being in California is unclear. She was 29 when she died.

It was reported in 1973 that Ribeiro's fingertips were cut off in an apparent attempt to conceal her identity. Advancements in forensic technology over the following decades meant that fingerprints have taken a backseat to DNA analysis and genealogical investigation, resulting in scores of solved cold cases in recent years.

Now, investigators want to find the person who cut Ribeiro's life short. San Diego police are asking for help in identifying the company Ribeiro worked for in Newark and any connections she had to San Diego.

Cover photo: Collage: San Diego Police Department

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