Remains of Cal City woman missing for a decade identified

Desiree Thompson, California City
Posted at 5:24 AM, Jul 19, 2022

CAL CITY, Calif. — After 10 years, the remains of a woman who went missing in California City have confirmed what her family feared for so long. The Kern County Coroners Office identified remains found in March as Desiree Thompson.

Thompson was reported missing back in January 2012 after a domestic incident involving her estranged husband, according to Cal City police. Thompson's mother, Sheri Smith, said on the night of Jan. 7, 2012, her daughter went to stay with a friend and that was the last time she heard from Desiree.

An acquaintance of Thompson said she had gone the night before to buy cigarettes from the Cactus Mini Mart on 83rd Street and that was the last place she was seen.

On March 25, investigators returned to Cal City and uncovered remains at a home on 86th Street. That home belonged to Jose Lara, a Cal City man now charged with first-degree murder in Thompson's case.

Smith said she was shocked to learn that was a stranger who attacked her daughter. She said after so many years of frustration with the investigation, she's grateful to have answers now.

According to police reports, Lara had told an acquaintance that he had confessed to killing a Black woman in 2012 and burying her body in the backyard of his house. The acquaintance reported this to Cal City police in January and police obtained warrants to search the property. Reports state that investigators later found human remains in the backyard, bloodspots on the concrete underneath the carpet, clothing, hair, and other items.

Lara was arrested in March and pleaded not-guilty in April. He is due back in court in August.