On October 5, 2003, the dismembered legs of Laurie Diane Potter, 54, were found in a dumpster in the 1600 block of Hilton Head Court, Rancho, San Diego, California. She remained unidentified for 18 years until genetic genealogy was used to identify her remains. Her husband, Jack Dennis Potter, was arrested for her murder.
On October 5, 2003, at around 1:25 p.m., an unnamed employee found the severed legs of a person in an apartment complex’s dumpster. Police and EMS responded to the scene in the 1600 block of Hilton Head Court in Rancho, San Diego, CA. The medical examiner could determine that the legs were that of an adult female. No other remains were discovered and investigators had found no other evidence. The initial cause of death was, but it was ruled a homicide. The sheriff’s homicide unit took the lead of the investigation. After exhausting all avenues available, the case went cold and remained cold until 2020, which offered significant advancements in DNA technology.
The cold case department of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office had followed different investigative avenues over the years. Nothing further was ever discovered. Then, in 2020, the cold case department revisited the case. With the assistance of the medical examiner, the victim’s DNA was submitted to the crime lab and cataloged. Investigators began tracing through genetic genealogy utilizing public DNA databases. They built a family tree that went back several generations by following very distant familial connections. They could move forward to identify specific familial distant relatives to the victim until they narrowed down to one man. He submitted his DNA for comparison. It was determined that he was the victim’s adult son. In December 2020, the remains were positively identified as Laurie Diane Potter.
Laurie Diane Potter
In October 2003, Laurie Potter, 54, had been living in Temecula, CA with her husband, Jack Potter. The couple had one son. When Potter had disappeared, she had never been reported missing. Her husband, Jack Potter, had told friends and family that Laurie had left him and that he did not know where she had gone. Family and friends had believed that she had been living her life in another location all the years that she had been missing.
On May 12, 2021, Jack Dennis Potter, 68, was arrested at his home in Rancho Cucamonga, California, for the murder of his wife, Laurie Diane Potter. Investigators have stated that the arrest was justified due to “substantial and convincing evidence.” although they have not stated what the evidence is. A judge arraigned Potter on May 20, 2021; he pled not guilty. A trial date is still to be determined. The official statement released by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office can be found here.
Investigators state that this is still an active investigation and are asking the public for any information. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit can be reached at (858) 285-6330/after hours at (858) 565-5200. If you would like to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at (858) 580-8477.
In a final thought, a retired sheriff’s department homicide detective, Pete Carrillo, told the media “there is a percentage of people who feel comfortable that they can live in the same community where they kill and they feel they’re just that good. But technology is getting better and detectives are getting better. Their time will come. There will be justice.”