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Maria Cavanaugh

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Maria Cavanaugh Empty Maria Cavanaugh

Post by ophion1031 March 6th 2016, 1:22 am

Oakland Tribune
Tuesday, January 31, 1961


Missing Woman's Body Discovered In Slough By Fisherman

Vallejo, Jan. 31/ The body of Mrs. Maria Cavanaugh, a veteran nurse, was found in a slough near here yesterday after the woman had been missing ten days. She had been strangled.

Mrs. Cavanaugh, 43, of 530 1/2 Tennessee St., part-time nurse at the Kaiser Hospital here and former nurse for ten years at Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco, apparently had been lashed about the face with heavy cord or wire before being strangled.

An autopsy will be made later today to determine if the woman was assaulted and how she was strangled.


Sheriff's investigator Lewis Richey believes her body was dumped in the ditch off Sears Point road about four miles west of here, on Sunday night. The area in which the body was found is frequented by sportsmen and the body was discovered by a fisherman.

Deputies said the body probably had been there only a few hours but that Mrs. Cavanaugh had been dead 48 hours or more. They speculated she was killed elsewhere and the body driven to the slough area.

The woman's husband of three years, James, a Mare Island Naval Shipyard employee, told authorities he last saw Mrs. Cavanaugh on Jan. 21, when she boarded a bus for a shopping trip to San Francisco.

When she failed to return home that evening, Cavanaugh said he assumed that his wife either went to a movie or visited friends.

The next day, he called four San Francisco friends seeking his wife, but they hadn't seen her. Cavanaugh then thought his wife may have traveled to El Salvador, her homeland, to visit her father.

But a check of the El Salvador consulate in San Francisco also uncovered nothing.

On Jan. 24, Cavanaugh filed a missing persons report.

It was the information on that report that led deputies yesterday to the identification of the strangling victim.


Richey believes Mrs. Cavanaugh's assailant used either heavy cord or wire to gag the woman. Both sides of her mouth were slashed and cuts were evident on the back of her head.

Cavanaugh said his wife was wearing a wedding band and platinum engagement ring when he last saw her, but they weren't on the body.

The only major clues to the slaying were eliminated after the first few hours of investigation. An early report suggested a private tow company had pulled a car from a ditch near where the body was found, but Richey was unable to confirm this.

A money order receipt found near the body had been dropped by a fisherman in the area a few weeks ago.

Mrs. Cavanaugh worked for Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco from 1949-1958, when she came to Vallejo.

The slaying victim, whose maiden name was Uriquilla, obtained a nursing degree in her native El Salvador.

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