Major Break In California Murder Case Of Former Coldwater Woman
By: Mike Stiles - Thursday, June 8, 2023

Claudette Jean Zebolsky Powers

SAN DIEGO – Authorities say a major break has come in a Southern California murder investigation of a woman born in Michigan.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department say they have identified the body of a woman as Claudette Jean Zebolsky Powers by making use of technology that uses DNA and genealogy websites to find family ties.

Powers’ body was found February 16, 1986 near campsites on the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation in Warner Springs, California. Her family last heard from her in September 1984, which is when her father died.

Since Powers’ body was found detectives have been actively working the case by reviewing missing person reports and asking for the public’s help. But up until recently, they haven’t had any success.

Sheriff’s Department officials say their Cold Case Team turned to Investigative Genetic Genealogy to help them find leads in the case.

A DNA profile obtained from a sample of Powers’ hair was compared to available profiles and once a family relationship was discovered, detectives tracked down Powers’ daughters, sister and her mother.

Powers was born in Coldwater on January 13, 1962. She lived with her husband in Washington State until the early 1980’s and then left him and moved to San Diego County.

Police believe that Powers’ killer is still at large. In a video made by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, her sister Laura Freese says they are asking for the public’s help with the investigation.

In addition, a second body was found near where police found Powers. The second body was that of a man, and has not been identified. It’s not known if the two cases are connected.

Anyone with information is asked to call the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Unit at 858-285-6330 or the Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.


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