As darkness closed in Friday evening, investigators discovered what they believe to be the shallow grave of Linda Sobek in the rugged Angeles National Forest north of the city, bringing to a tragic end the eight-day search for the missing calendar model.
Authorities were led to the remote site of Sobek’s body by automotive photographer Charles E. Rathbun, 38, who told police that he had panicked and buried the former Los Angeles Raiders’ cheerleader with his bare hands after accidentally running over her with a luxury sports vehicle during a photo session in a dry lake bed.
Rathbun - his wrists bandaged from an early morning jailhouse suicide attempt - identified the location from a sheriff’s helicopter at about 4 p.m. From the air, the grave was a heap of freshly turned rocks and earth just off a dirt road about 15 miles south of Palmdale.
At the command post where scores of searchers have congregated throughout this Thanksgiving week, law enforcement officials would say only that a body had been discovered; no identification was released. Officials said they would not exhume the body or attempt to identify it until today.
Sobek, 27, vanished Nov. 16 after leaving for a photo session. Friends and family said she had left a message on her answering machine indicating that she was on a modeling assignment, but no further information.