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'John Doe' Dumped Down California Hillside In Tarp After 1998 Murder Finally Identified

ericcupo dna

Courtesy Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office; Unsplash

Apr. 13 2023, Published 10:07 a.m. ET

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More than 24 years after a wrapped male body was found down a northern California hillside, the murder victim has been identified.

Modern genetic technology confirmed this week that Eric P. Cupo, 22, was murdered, left inside a tarp, then tossed down a hill in rural Santa Cruz County in December 1998.

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Cupo's body was so decomposed that it took decades to identify him. But three people have been convicted since 1998 of murdering a victim called only "John Doe."

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that an autopsy determined Cupo died from blunt force trauma.


KPIX-TV reports that forensic genetic genealogy applied over the last two years determined Cupo was the victim. He was a California native, who moved around the country while growing up.

The Sheriff's Office statement and Bay Area news reports did not give details on the murderers or their convictions. But a comment left by the office on Facebook indicated all three killers are still in prison.


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