All indications are Erica Melissa Alonso, whose body was found off Ortega Highway two months after she was last seen in Irvine following a night of Valentine's Day partying, died of an overdose and not homicide, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
"Based on the totality of the investigation; including interviews, evidence collection, autopsy and toxicology results, investigators do not believe Ms. Alonso was the victim of a homicide," said Lt. Jeff Hallock, the sheriff's spokesman.
Sheriff's homicide investigators on Tuesday received the results of toxicology tests on the 28-year-old Laguna Hills woman that showed she had varying levels of alcohol and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) in her system at the time of her death, Hallock said.
"Based on the Ms. Alonso's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .22 and the amount of GHB found in her system, the Coroner Division has determined the combination and amounts were lethal," said the spokesman. "The Coroner Division has determined the cause of death to be an overdose; however, the manner remains undetermined."
Alonso and her boyfriend celebrated Valentine's Day at Sutra Lounge in Costa Mesa, where they met another couple who accompanied them back to the Irvine home of Alonso's boyfriend. After a verbal fight with her boyfriend, Alonso left the home in her own vehicle shortly after the couple did, in the early morning hours. She hadn't been seen since, and her family filed a missing person report.
The sheriff's investigation included repeated interviews with the last people to see Alonso alive, several family members, friends and acquaintances, according to Hallock.
Her missing vehicle was found on March 25 in a residential complex in Aliso Viejo, about a mile or two from her home in Laguna Hills. On April 28, her body was discovered off Ortega Highway, about 12 miles east of the 5 freeway.
Following an autopsy and complete examination of the body, the coroner's pathologist was initially unable to determine a cause of death, so toxicology tests were ordered while homicide investigators continued to follow up on information and evidence collected at the locations her body and vehicle were discovered, Hallock said.
While homicide is being ruled out for now, the investigation continues, including the pursuit of "information as to the circumstance that led to Ms. Alonso's death and her body being located off the Ortega Highway," Hallock said. "Throughout the investigation, information obtained by investigators support the toxicology results and cause of death; however, the investigation is ongoing."
Anyone with additional information is asked to call the sheriff's Homicide Unit at 714.647.7055 or 714.647.7000. Anonymous tips can be left with Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855.847.6227 (855-TIP-OCCS), via occrimestoppers.org or by texting to 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S) from a cell phone. (All text messages should begin with the letters "OCCS".)