Bay City News
A body discovered three weeks ago in a wooded canyon northwest of Santa Cruz has been identified as Elias Sorokin, a Los Angeles man who was reported missing in 2009 and was believed to have been murdered, Santa Cruz police said today.
A forensic analysis that included DNA tests confirmed that the body is Sorokin's, Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said.
The Los Angeles Police Department, which was handling the missing-person case, said Sorokin was last seen in Oakland at about 8 p.m. on July 20, 2009.
His vehicle was found burned eight days later on a fire road in the Bonny Doon area, and his body was finally located earlier this month, on Sept. 9, in a nearby canyon in the area of Warren Drive and Smith Grade Road, about a mile from where the car was recovered, Clark said.
Three men -- Stewart Skuba, Kenneth Clamp and Adam Hunt -- were arrested and charged with Sorokin's murder, and Skuba and Clamp were convicted of first-degree murder, according to Santa Cruz County Assistant District Attorney Rob Wade.
Hunt was acquitted of the murder charge but was convicted of robbery, according to Wade.
Sorokin's family members met with Santa Cruz police on Friday to view his remains and the site where his body was found, Clark said.
In a statement released by police today, Sorokin's father Nick Sorokin noted that the recovery of his son's body brings some comfort to the family.
The elder Sorokin described the spot where the body was found as "a picturesque canyon full of redwoods."
"As an arborist, he was called a 'tree man' by many and even in death he earned his title, nurturing the trees around him," Nick Sorokin said.
However, he noted, "His departure from us was a great loss and has no replacement."
Wade said Sorokin was killed in an ambush after Skuba asked him to come over to his home in order to rob him with Clamp and Hunt.
Skuba had planned to use a knock-out drug on Sorokin and steal drugs from him, but when the drug didn't work, he and Clamp beat Sorokin to death. They were convicted even though no body was found. After Sorokin was killed, Wade said, Skuba and Clamp stole 10 pounds of marijuana from his truck along with guitars and other items.