SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Authorities Tuesday identified from dental records two badly decomposed bodies found in the Los Padres National Forest as those of two young Swedish women hitchhiking on vacation in the United States.
Sheriff's Deputy Nancy Knox said Dr. Boyd Stephens, a San Francisco physician, will perform autopsies on an as-yet unscheduled date to determine how Marie Lilienberg, 23, and Maria Wahlen, 25, died.
Stephens will perform the autopsies because Santa Barbara County has no medical examiner, she said.
The Swedish women disappeared July 22 while hitchhiking somewhere between Redwood City, in Northern California, and Los Angeles. One of the bodies was discovered Thursday by hunters in a ditch about 40 feet from a coastal highway. The second body was found the same day beneath nearby bush.
On Sunday, the fathers of the two girls returned home to Sweden 'tired, depressed and upset' after tentatively identifying their daughters through jewelry on the bodies, a sheriff's spokesman said. Ove Lilienberg and Lars Wahlen had come to California Aug. 5 to search for their daughters.
The bodies were positively identified through dental records received Tuesday from Sweden, authorities said.
Homicide investigators were looking into reports from six witnesses who said they saw someone with the girls just before they disappeared.
Among clues being studied by investigators were film, photographs and a diary kept by Miss Wahlen, with the last entry made on July 21. The articles, turned over to authorities by an unidentified person, were found behind a business near a freeway in the Los Angeles area.
The FBI has been called in to identify through fingerprints an arm found in the rugged, wooden area near where the women's bodies were found.