Severed leg found in Buena Vista Lake in 2018 identified and matches DNA of remains from car found in lake in July

Posted at 6:45 PM, Oct 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-15 21:45:09-04

BAKERSFIELD, Cali — A severed leg that was found washed up on Buena Vista lake in July of 2018 has been identified, and it matches the same DNA of the remains that were found in a car that was pulled out of the lake earlier this year.

23ABC’s Bayne Froney spoke with the Kern County sheriff’s office about what they found and who this person was.

In July, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office pulled a car out of
Buena Vista lake, and found human remains inside.

Those remains have been identified as 64-year-old Shirley Mae Cassel who had been reported missing in September of 2017 through the Santa Ana Police Department.

We’ve now learned through DNA testing, the coroners office has determined that the human leg that washed up on the shore of the lake back in 2018, also belonged to Cassel.

According to the Santa Ana police department, Cassel had been renting a room from someone in the Santa Ana area, when one day, she just left. Family of Cassel had then reported her missing.

“Based on the results of the autopsy and based on what we’ve determined, we don’t believe it is criminal, she either got lost or disorientated is what we are thinking and she drove into the water,” Joel Swanson, Lieutenant for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, said.

According to Swanson, the Sheriff’s office believes that the incident occurred in 2017 and the reason she wasn’t found until now was because the car was completely submerged in the lake.

“We believed that this happened three years ago, and it was a case where the car was just below the water line, it was still in fairly shallow water, it was below the water line and it was hard to see because of all of the weeds," Swanson said. "And then the leg surfaced a year later, and then the car surfaced two years later.”

The Kern County Sheriffs Office is asking anyone who may have seen the incident or has any information to contact the sheriff’s office at 861-3110.