Ortíz, originally from Mexico, was the last unidentified victim of the more than 50 people who died in the LA riots, the deadliest in U.S. history. His body was found on May 2, 1992 inside a torched Pep Boys auto parts store in Southern Los Angeles. The official cause of death was smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation, and thermal burns. He was cremated and buried in a mass grave at LA County cemetery, the Los Angeles Times reported.
But thanks to a partial fingerprint from his left middle finger, authorities finally were able to make the identification, announced Friday by Los Angeles County coroner’s spokesman Ed Winter.
According to the newspaper, coroner’s investigators had tried every few years to match the fingerprint, and they finally caught a break after sending it to a specialized FBI squad that identifies disaster victims, including the 9/11 attacks.
It turns out Hernández had been arrested on a few minor charges in LA County and Anaheim, and the FBI finally made the connection.
“We tried many, many times over the years. Every couple of years, someone would pick up the file. Finally, we did it,” Winter said, according to the newspaper.