DNA, Camera Footage Led to Teen's Arrest in Killing of Carlsbad Hiker

The minor is accused in the Nov. 23 stabbing death of Carlsbad resident Lisa Thorborg, 68, who was found dead on a hiking trail that runs through Hosp Grove Park; a judge has ruled there's enough evidence for the teen to stand trial

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What to Know

  • Carlsbad resident Lisa Thorborg was found dead on a hiking trail that runs through Hosp Grove Park in Carlsbad on Nov. 23, 2020
  • A 17-year-old suspect was arrested for her murder on Dec. 14, 2020
  • At a hearing on Dec. 22, testimony revealed the teen's DNA was found on Thorborg's shorts; detectives said there was no evidence of robbery or sexual assault in the slaying

The DNA of a 17-year-old boy accused of fatally stabbing a woman last month on a hiking trail in Carlsbad was found on the victim’s shorts, according to testimony heard Tuesday in San Diego juvenile court.

The teen – whose name has not been released by police because he is a minor – is charged with the murder of Lisa Thorborg, 68.

Thorborg’s body was found on Hosp Grove trail on the morning of Nov. 23. Her death set shockwaves through Carlsbad.

For three weeks, there were no answers as to who had killed the grandmother.

On Dec. 14, the teenage suspect was arrested at a beach in Carlsbad in connection to Thorborg’s killing. At his arraignment last week, he denied all allegations.

Police arrested a 17-year-old Carlsbad resident in connection with the deadly stabbing of a woman on a popular hiking trail. NBC 7's Alexis Rivas has more.

Tuesday's hearing revealed some of the preliminary facts that led Carlsbad police to arrest the boy, who still faces the possibility of being charged as an adult.

Should a judge rule the teen be tried as an adult, the defendant will be eligible for life without parole.

Based on evidence heard Tuesday, San Diego Superior Court Judge Richard Monroy ruled that there was enough evidence to allow the case to proceed and for the boy, who pleaded not guilty to the charges last week, to remain held in custody.

Among the details revealed at the hearing include that the boy's DNA was found on Thorborg's shorts and that surveillance footage from the nearby area captured a boy resembling the defendant running away from the park about 15 minutes after police believe Thorborg was killed.

Surveillance footage and license-plate reader data also showed that the boy's grandmother dropped him off near the park about an hour before the attack.

After Thorborg’s death, police set up a camera in the park. Police alleged the camera captured images of the suspect venturing along the trail on multiple occasions after Nov. 23, often barefoot and carrying flip-flops.

Two pairs of flip-flops, including one believed to belong to the teen, were found near the crime scene.

He was allegedly contacted by police in early December and ran from
officers, who took him into custody, at which point his DNA was taken.

The boy was arrested again on Dec. 14, this time in connection with Thorborg’s deadly stabbing.

Detectives have not disclosed a suspected motive for the killing but testified that the victim was not robbed or sexually assaulted.

No outstanding suspects are being sought in the case, according to
Carlsbad police Lt. Jason Jackowski.

The teen is due in court again on Jan. 25, 2021.

Police arrested a 17-year-old Carlsbad resident in connection with the deadly stabbing of a woman on a popular hiking trail. NBC 7's Alexis Rivas has more.

The Killing of Lisa Thorborg

Thorborg was a beloved grandmother who had moved to Carlsbad with her family just 6 months ago.

On the morning of Nov. 23, Carlsbad Police Department detectives believe Thorborg went hiking alone on a trail that runs through Hosp Grove Park – just blocks away from her home.

Investigators said Thorborg had posted some messages on social media in the days leading up to her killing asking if there was anyone around who wanted to go hiking with her.

“Hiking anyone?” she posted on NextDoor, a social media site that connects neighbors. “I would love the company.”

The Carlsbad Police Department is still investigating those posts and whether they had anything to do with Thorborg’s killing.

The crime left residents of Carlsbad on edge for several weeks.

Earlier this month, police put out a message on social media asking concerned parties not to try and take the investigation into their own hands. Investigators grew concerned because of social media posts circulating within the community suggesting civilians, frustrated by the lack of progress in the case, would search nearby homeless encampments for suspects.

After the suspect’s arrest on Dec. 14, Thorborg’s family released a statement saying they were grateful for the “outpouring of support, love and generosity” from the Carlsbad community.

Following the news of the arrest, Thorborg's family released the following statement, in part:

Our family moved here with Lisa just 6 short months before her tragic death, and in a year dominated by COVID, there has not been much opportunity to meet our new neighbors and make friends. Since the shocking news of Lisa's death, however, there has been an endless outpouring of kindness and generosity that literally brings us to tears and warms our hearts. From the organization of the ‘Finish Lisa's Walk’ event in Hosp Grove to the many meals, flowers, and gifts that we have received, we want you to know that we feel SO loved and supported by this incredible community.”

The family said they were confident police would help bring justice for Thorborg.

The weekend following Thorborg’s death, hundreds from the Carlsbad community and beyond organized “Finish Lisa's Walk,” a symbolic hike on the same trail where the victim was found dead a week prior.

The community wanted to finish the walk that Thorborg could not finish.

It’s been nearly three weeks since someone stabbed 68-year-old Lisa Thorborg to death on a hiking trail, reports NBC 7's Alexis Rivas
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