On February 21, 1989, a 13-year old boy named Sylvester Lopez, who was living in a foster home in Eureka, was reported as a runaway juvenile to the Eureka Police Department. He was from the Hoopa/Weitchpec area and information was soon learned that he had been seen in the Hoopa/Weitchpec area and was possibly staying with various friends. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s office was requested to see if they could locate him but were unable to do so.
In September of 1989 partial skeletal remains were recovered from the Trinity River, downriver near Hoopa, and turned over to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s office. The remains were initially identified as female. (Today, with modern testing methods, it is easier to identify the gender of juvenile skeletal remains.)
On February 11, 2008, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s office assisted the Eureka Police department in obtaining DNA from Sylvester’s biological mother. Unfortunately she passed away of natural causes two days after the DNA samples were obtained. The DNA samples were sent to the Department of Justice lab in Richmond, CA, and stored in their DNA computer bank for possible matching with unidentified remains.
Recent examination of the partial skeletal remains found in 1989 by the Humboldt County Coroner’s office revealed the skeletal remains were that of a young male and not that of a female. The skeletal remains were sent to the DOJ lab for DNA testing.
On April 30, 2012, the California Department of Justice DNA laboratory notified the Humboldt County Coroner’s office of a possible match on skeletal remains that were recovered in the Trinity River in September of 1989. There was a positive match with the biological mother of Sylvester Lopez and a possible match with Sylvester Lopez. Once it was determined there were no other family members missing, the Humboldt County coroner notified the family of Sylvester Lopez that his skeletal remains had been found and identified.
Twenty-two years after Sylvester Lopez was reported missing he is being returned to family members. This is not a closed case and if anyone has any information regarding Sylvester Lopez, they are urged to call either the Eureka Police department at (707) 441-4300 or the Humboldt County Coroner’s office at (707) 445-7242.