Most Viewed Stories
April Pitzer honored at memorial service
BARSTOW • Hours before Saturday's memorial service for her daughter April Pitzer, Gloria Denton and a search team were once again exploring a well off Dixie Road in Hinkley.
"It's gone good (today)," Denton said. "We have found some bones that are questionable. We've recovered some bones that forensic anthropologists want to examine."
The memorial service, held Saturday night at Mead Mortuary Funerals & Cremations in Barstow, honored the memory of Pitzer, who was last seen in Newberry Springs before disappearing in June 2004. She was 30 years old at the time of her disappearance and was planning on moving back to her native Arkansas to reunite and live with Denton.
Pitzer never made it to Arkansas, and Denton has made frequent trips to the Mojave Desert since then, searching amongst the thousands of mines and wells in the vast desert in hopes of finding any trace of her daughter. Recently, Denton decided it was the right time to hold a memorial service.
Denton said she made the decision "a few months ago, on her birthday, Feb. 19. I knew that because of finances, and funding and sponsorships, money is very tight. ... I knew this would be probably my last trip out here. In the event it was, I've made so many good friends out here. They keep coming every year. And we make new ones each year."
Pitzer was declared legally dead in August 2012, but her case is still being treated as an active homicide by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.
A plaque honoring Pitzer now adorns the memorial wall at Mountain View Memorial Park on Irwin Road.
"I just wanted the people here to know, that did this, that April was loved," Denton said Saturday. "And she will forever have a memorial here. I didn't want anyone to think that I just walked away and forgot her. Because that's not it. She is the love of my life."
Denton's most recent trip to the Mojave Desert started nearly a week earlier, with a focused search of a well off Dixie Road. Acting on a tip, Denton and search teams have been investigating the well throughout the week.
Tuesday's search yielded potential bone fragments. On Thursday, search teams at the dig site found a piece of a skull with long brown hair attached, and Denton and a group of volunteers were back at the site Saturday.
"There's about 15 or 16 of us that have been out here since about 7:30 this morning. We'll probably go until about 5," Denton said. "We've got three Jeeps with winches and have made a tripod. We've got two men down in the well."
"It was 20 feet deep, now we're down to about 23 feet," Denton said. "We can tell by prescription bottles and food cans, by their dates on the labels, that what we've been going through is 2007 and 2006. That's why we've been digging down further. They've dug at least a three-foot-deep by 12-foot circumference today, and we're now getting down to 2005 and 2004."
Saturday's search yielded more bone fragments as Denton and crew worked into the early evening.
Anyone with information in the disappearance of April Beth Pitzer can call Det. Mike Walker with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department at 909-653-6581. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may also call the WeTip hotline at 800-78-CRIME.