LEMON GROVE, Calif. – Over three years after a 16-year-old girl was reported missing, authorities identified human remains found in Chula Vista as the missing girl -- Kimberly Arteaga.
Family members reported Arteaga's disappearance on January 7, 2014. San Diego County Sheriff's Department detectives investigated the report, but it wasn't until three years later that they received a tip.
"An individual was walking his dog in Otay Valley regional park area of Chula Vista and happened upon some human remains," said Lt. Kenn Nelson.
Nelson said the remains were turned over to the Chula Vista police. The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office conducted an autopsy and DNA samples were sent to the sheriff's crime lab for identification.
"We took a couple of months for those results to come back so her remains were not positively identified until March of this year," said Lt. Nelson. "The Medical Examiner's office was able to determine those remains had died from homicide."
Detectives said it is likely Arteaga's death happened around the time of her disappearance.
"Love and caring girl dude," said Aaron Bonilla.
Bonilla was best friends with Arteaga in high school. He said he and his friends suspect Kimberly died at the hands of her boyfriend.
"It was the boyfriend at the time, it has to be there’s no doubt about it," said Bonilla. "It just breaks my heart to know that my friend just passed in a very brutal way."
Lt. Nelson said the boyfriend has been interviewed and has been named a person of interest.
Authorities have sealed all other details about the Lemon Grove resident's death. No suspects have been publicly identified.
Anyone with information about the case should call the homicide unit at 858-974-2321 or 858-565-5200. Callers can remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477 and are eligible for up to a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
Arteaga's brother created a memorial at the trail where her remains were found. He posted pictures of it on Instagram.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children had attempted to help find Arteaga with a Facebook post showing her picture.