El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office IDs bodies recovered from Fallen Leaf Lake
March 19, 2018
The bodies of two people recovered from Fallen Leaf Lake in August and October have been identified, according to a press release from the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office.
A female recovered on Aug. 29, 2017 was identified through DNA as 71-year-old Cynthia Ellis (aka Cynthia Prehoda) from South Lake Tahoe. Ellis went missing in 2001 and was believed to have committed suicide by drowning in the lake.
A male recovered on Oct. 27, 2017 was identified through DNA as 74-year-old Michael Whalen. Whalen went missing in 2004 after traveling to the Lake Tahoe area from Florida in a van carrying a brown, wood colored canoe. The van was located near Fallen Leaf Lake in late 2004 but the canoe was not found. A small anchor and rope around Whalen's legs was consistent with an anchor used for a canoe.
A forensic autopsy and examination by a forensic anthropologist was conducted on both Ellis and Whalen but they were unable to determine a cause of death for either person.
The conclusions on the causes of death are said to be due to the condition of the remains. There was no evidence of foul play.
The families of the victims have been notified and are grateful for the closure brought by the efforts of Bruce's Legacy, the Fallen Leaf Fire Department, El Dorado County Search and Rescue and the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office.
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Anyone with information on Michael Whalen, the location of his canoe or any canoe found in Fallen Leaf Lake around 2004 or 2005 is asked to call El Dorado County sheriff's detective Rich Horn at 530-642-4729 or detective Damian Frisby at 530-573-3022.
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