It was nine years ago that the body of San Jose resident Angel Valtierra, 20, was found off Upper Zayante Road in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Scotts Valley, his mother said Friday.
"It was never solved, it's a cold case," Rachel Valtierra told Scotts Valley Patch in a phone interview March 22. "He was a missing person for a month, and his body was actually found by a UPS driver, his route was up there in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
"He smelled something and thought it was an animal. But it wasn't an animal, it was my child. I'm happy they found him and we were able to give him a proper burial, put him to rest. But there is still someone who knows what happened."
Angel's body was found in a wooded area over an embankment off Upper Zayante Road in Felton, according to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department.
His family reported him missing from the San Jose area a few weeks before the discovery of his remains, according to the Sheriff's Department. Angel was last seen at a party on Audubon Drive in San Jose on Feb. 26, 2004.
Angel worked for a U-Haul business in San Jose before his disappearance, his mother said.
Investigators have discussed how Angel died with his mother and other family members, but they've been instructed not to discuss it publicly because the homicide remains unsolved.
Rachel Valtierra said Friday she hopes people who may know what happened to her son have matured and will now come forward to ease her family's pain.
"I believe whatever happened it was here in San Jose, and he was transported over there by whoever is responsible for his murder," Rachel said. "It's been a long time and I hope people who know something about this will now decide in their hearts to come forward after so long.
"Maybe they've grown, maybe they've gone through some changes in their lives and they can see what they've done, and they can come forward because they see what happened to our lives. It's been a long time and we're still searching for answers."
Angel had a daughter who was born after his death, Rachel Valtierra said.
"Jezzelle born was two weeks after he was found, so she never met him, and she's nine years old now," Rachel said. "She lives in here in San Jose. We see her regularly and she's starting to ask questions about her father now."
Angel's birthday was in July, so today he would be 29 years old, his mother said.
The anniversary of the discovery of Angel's remains always brings back difficult memories, Rachel Valtierra said.
"We were notified the next day on March 23," Rachel said. "The way we found out was terrible. The Sheriff's Department didn't tell us. We heard it on the radio, that a Hispanic man had been found.
"My daughter called the Santa Cruz investigators that do the autopsies, and they confirmed it was him," Rachel said. "We didn't have a very good rapport with the investigators with the Sheriff's Department back then. But that is not the focus now. Today we are looking for answers."
Anyone with information about Angel Valtierra's death was urged to call Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Investigations at (831) 454-2311 or the County Communications Center at (831) 471-1121, reference case number 04-02568.