A DNA match made last week confirmed the bone found by hiking tourists in September 2011 belonged to Cody E. Conoboy, who was reported missing in January 2011.
“It’s actually become very painful for us,” said Lynne Conoboy of Willow Creek. “We had no idea the bone was even found when the Humboldt County coroner called me. We already had closure. We were getting past it. It just kind ripped the scab off the newly healed wound.”
On Jan. 9, 2011, at around 1 a.m., Cody and two other males were reported to be in a stolen vehicle on State Route 96 near Hoopa, according to authorities.
A sheriff’s deputy spotted the stolen vehicle just as it drove off the shoulder of the highway and rolled several times, authorities said.
All three occupants fled: One jumped down a steep embankment and clung to a tree until he was discovered, and another was located walking down the highway, authorities said.
Cody jumped off a nearby bridge that was 60 feet over the Trinity River, authorities aid.
A search team, including a helicopter, was formed the following morning and spotted a big impression left in the sand near the river, authorities said. A shoe belonging to Cody was later found downriver.
The jawbone found by hikers nine months later was originally thought to have floated from a Indian burial site, but a DNA test eventually led to a match for Cody, which led to the call to his mother last week.
“I can’t believe some of the things people have said about my son,” said Conoboy. “He made a horrible choice to get into the car that night, but he didn’t know it was stolen. The boys didn’t tell him it was stolen.”
One boy stole the vehicle, which had been left running in a driveway, and the owner of the car then pursued the vehicle in a friend’s car, Conoboy said.
The boy who was driving lost his pursuers, picked up his cousin and continued their joyride, Conoboy said.
They later came across her son in Weitchpec, and shortly thereafter the pursuit car caught up to the vehicle and chased it down the highway at a high rate of speed, Conoboy said.
The pursuers were the same people who reported the stolen vehicle, and as the deputy caught up to the chase, the driver hit an embankment, flipping the car over, Conoboy said.
The boys fled the vehicle while it was still spinning on its roof, she said.
“He was a good boy that made a wrong decision and things went bad,” said Conoboy. “Now we don’t have a son or a brother or an uncle.”
Cody was the youngest of 10 children. He excelled at football and wrestling. Conoboy stated her son was a natural talent at many things he tried, winning an art contest, spelling bee and his first boxing match. He was also an avid hunter and fisherman, Conoboy said.
“Kids do stupid things,” said Conoboy. He was a 15-year-old that made a poor choice. Unfortunately he ended up paying for it with his life.”