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Authorities identify body found 17 years ago in Los Angeles area

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A burned body found dumped on the side of a road outside Los Angeles 17 years ago has been identified as that of a 20-year-old woman who went missing from California's central coast, authorities say.

The remains of Gail Catherine Allen were identified after nearly two decades when forensic scientists matched her remains to DNA samples taken from her parents, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lieutenant Dave Dolson.

He said detectives were now asking for help from the public in solving the cold case that began when the body was found beside a two-lane road in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County.

"She was discovered unclothed in a sleeping bag, burned, dumped off the side of the road," Dolson told reporters at a press conference.

He said at the time, Allen was living in Morro Bay, about 200 miles away on the central coast of California, and working at a Taco Bell restaurant. The young woman also had ties to Victorville, California, and Pennsylvania.

Authorities say Allen had been living with her then-2-year-old daughter Katie Detar and the girl's father, Marquis Detar, in Morro Bay but that the relationship had become strained and that she had also befriended an unknown man known only as "Cowboy."

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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