Authorities confirmed Friday that remains found in a freezer near Toppenish on July 4 were Rosenda Sophia Strong, who was reported missing last year.
“The Yakima County Coroner’s Office and its staff offer our condolences to the family and friends of Rosenda Strong,” Yakima County Coroner Jim Curtice said in a news release. “Rosenda’s remains were found in a freezer on July 4 … in the Toppenish area. The remains were positively identified with the use of dental records.
“Rosenda’s death has been classified as a homicide, the cause of death remains under investigation.”
Yakima County sheriff’s detectives, Yakama Nation tribal police and the FBI were called to the 64000 block of U.S. Highway 97 around 4:20 p.m. July 4 after two homeless men found human remains in an unplugged freezer, sheriff’s spokesman Casey Schilperoort had said.
Federal and tribal officers were called in because the remains were found within the Yakama Nation.
Cissy Strong Reyes last saw her younger sister, Rosenda Sophia Strong, on Oct. 2. An acquaintance came to their home in Wapato and picked Rosenda up for the short drive to Legends Casino. The 31-year-old was a citizen of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and a descendant of the Yakama Nation. Her disappearance follows a tragic pattern familiar throughout Indian Country.
On Friday morning, Reyes got the confirmation she had dreaded yet prayed for. Her sister was coming home.
“My baby sister Rosenda (Strong’s) remains (were) found in a freezer. Yes it has been confirmed to me this morning from the FBI agent working on my sister’s case,” Reyes said in a Facebook post. “We have her back; not the way we wanted but we can after 275 days of looking, wondering, our baby sister, mother, aunt, cousin, friend is coming home to our mother.”
Rosenda Strong, a mother of four, would have turned 32 on April 16.
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