While searching for a place to cross a creek bed, a man on horseback made a grisly find Oct. 28, 1995. The burned body of a woman lay in a ravine near Covina Hills Road in Covina. Someone killed her, set her on fire, then pushed the body over the side of the road. For the past 11 years, she has been known only as Jane Doe No. 59. That’s unacceptable to Investigator Richard Kennerly, who came out of retirement seven years ago to work cold cases for the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. He decided a year ago to also handle cases where the victims remain unidentified. Kennerly wants to put a name to the 59 John and Jane Does found in the county as far back as 1968. Many are homicide victims. About 39 are under 21 years old, which includes children dumped on mountain roads or babies left in public restrooms. He has yet to identify one, but he considers such cases a challenge. “Somebody needs to find out who these kids are and find out who the parents are,” Kennerly said. “Heck, you have a pile of unidentified people. Someone should at least try.” Kennerly’s efforts are welcomed by the Sheriff’s Department, officials said. “The sheriff believes good investigators should always be used if they’re willing and this is an example of a superior investigator who still wants to be of service,” said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for Sheriff Lee Baca. “And he has done so in an exemplary manner.” Kennerly started out with 200 cases but winnowed them down after checking coroner’s files for two months and finding many had been identified but no one told homicide. But the 76-year-old Kennerly is following a trail long gone cold. Clues are few. Sometimes, evidence such as clothing is missing or long destroyed. “What I do is I pull out these old files and I try to find something in there that is usable – clothes, jewelry or dental charts,” he said. “It’s hard to find DNA. Prior to 1988, the coroners got rid of all the bones.” In the case of partial skeletal remains discovered Jan. 5, 1981, in a riverbed in Sierra Madre, Kennerly was able to find the siblings of a missing Santa Clarita man who could be the victim. Along with the remains, investigators originally recovered a blue football jersey with the number “44” on the back. “The brother and sister came and gave DNA but we don’t have DNA to compare with. I have not found the jersey. Turns out the coroner burned the bones and the shirt,” Kennerly said. The case is inactive but remains open. He also hopes clothing will help identify the young woman tossed onto Oak Meadow Road in Sierra Madre on Feb. 7, 1993. “The neighbors heard a car running and it was raining. They \ beat her, threw her out of the car and took off,” he said. The victim’s black mini skirt had a label marked “Lisa S.” and Japanese writing that indicated the skirt may have been made for someone named Lisa. He sent the information about the case to Japan. Nothing yet. Kennerly puts information about his cases in databases that include the Doe Network and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, where he investigates cold cases as a volunteer. There were 272 unidentified people reported to the California Department of Justice last year. State law requires that coroners and medical examiners send samples from unidentified bodies to the state lab to check if there’s a match in a DNA database maintained by the DOJ. State officials estimate about 200 to 300 new cases of unidentified remains will require DNA analysis every year. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office sees about 450 unidentified bodies a year, said coroner’s investigator Dan Machian. It uses fingerprints, X-rays and dental records to identify the bodies. But about 20 to 30 remain nameless, he said. In San Bernardino County, the Coroner’s Office gets about 100 unidentified bodies per year, according to David Van Norman, deputy coroner investigator and unidentified persons coordinator. “Out of those, the vast majority are identified by fingerprints within hours or days. After two to three weeks, the rest will be identified by dental records and DNA,” he said. Van Norman said 95 percent would be identified at the end of the year. But Jane Doe No. 17 was among the five percent who remains nameless. The young woman was hit by three cars Sept. 24, 2005, on the San Bernardino (10) Freeway, east of Central Avenue in Montclair. For whatever reason, she was running across traffic. One of the unusual things he noted was her pockets were turned inside out. Van Norman said emergency personnel said they did not riffle through her pockets. It could be someone else who tried to remove something incriminating or a helpful person who was looking for an ID, he said. But what he needs to know now is her name. He can rule out or match a person using fingerprints, dental records or DNA. “What I care about is that this girl’s family get her fingerprints, dental records and DNA on file now. Somebody out there is looking for her,” Van Norman said. “Over a hundred mothers saw her photo and said `my daughter,’ but we proved otherwise.” firstname.lastname@example.org (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2718 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!