Human remains found near Wrightwood in 1969 were confirmed this month to be those of a teenage girl who disappeared near her Mentone home the previous year, cold case detectives announced Friday.
Investigators suspect she was murdered.
Elizabeth Ernstein, 14, was last seen March 19, 1968, one block from her home while returning from school in Mentone, east of Redlands, according to the coroner.
"For months afterward, Sheriff's Department personnel and volunteers searched for clues of Elizabeth's disappearance, but to no avail," coroner's personnel said in a statement issued Friday afternoon.
"The case took on national attention with news media covering the story from across the nation," the statement said. "Her disappearance went unsolved."
More than 40 years passed. Then in 2011, remains of an unidentified person found in 1969 in a shallow grave near Wrightwood were exhumed from a county cemetery and submitted for DNA testing, according to the coroner.
Investigators with the Coroner's Division learned the remains were those of a young adult.
In May 2012, San Bernardino County coroner's investigators received more information that raised the possibility Elizabeth's remains had been recovered but not identified.
Investigators obtained DNA samples from Elizabeth's sister and brother and sent the samples to the California Department of Justice for a database search of possible matches, according to the coroner.
Working on leads developed in May 2012, investigators asked the Department of Justice to compare DNA samples from Elizabeth's sister and brother to DNA from the unidentified remains found in the Wrightwood grave, coroner's personnel said.
"On August 16, 2012, Sheriff's Coroner Investigator/Unidentified Persons Coordinator Bob Hunter received confirmation from the Department of Justice that the samples obtained from Elizabeth Ernstein’s brother and sister were a match to the remains found in 1969," coroner's personnel said.
Mentone is a rural citrus community in southwest San Bernardino County, about 45 miles southeast of Wrightwood, in the San Gabriel Mountains near the Los Angeles County line.
The sheriff's Cold Case unit is seeking more information to determine the circumstances of Elizabeth's disappearance and suspected murder.
Anyone with more information was urged to call Detectives Ryan Ford or Scott Cannon at (909) 387-3589. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may contact the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME.