Remains of missing Laura Garza ID’d in PA

Sixteen months after she disappeared during a night out in New York City, the remains of missing woman Laura Garza were found near Scranton, Pennsylvania.

25-year-old Garza was last seen with 24-year-old Michael Melee in Newburgh, NY after leaving the Marquee nightclub in Chelsea on December 3rd, 2008. Melee, a convicted sex offender, was later spotted with visible bruises and scratches, and police say the young man refused to cooperate with the investigation into Garza’s disappearance. Skeletal remains were found on April 11th in a field in Olyphant, Pennsylvania.

DNA was used to positively identify Garza’s remains in Albany, and police didn’t have a hard time tracking Melee down:

Melee is currently serving prison time after violating his parole in an unrelated incident. Melee was designated a Level 1 sex offender in March 2008, after he was found guilty of exposing himself and masturbating in front of women in a mall parking lot in West Nyack, N.Y.

A distinctive watch found with the body helped identify the Brooklyn woman’s remains. The watch is visible in the above picture, widely circulated after Garza vanished. Melee is not due to be released from prison on the unrelated parole violation until December.