The body found burned near a field behind Central Valley High School in Ceres this week has been identified as that of a young Modesto mother.
Lauren Grace London’s death was a homicide, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department spokesman deputy Anthony Bejaran announced Wednesday afternoon. Bejaran would not say how she died.
London’s body was found Monday, on what would have been her 25th birthday, in a field off Blaker Road just south of Ceres by residents of the property.
London was the mother of a little girl named Kennidee, who turns 2 next month. She also is survived by her parents and an older sister.
“She had the most amazing personality that anyone could ever have,” said London’s friend Taylor Eastham. “Anytime you were having a bad day, she would stop her day to make yours better.”
Eastham and London graduated from Hughson High School together in 2008. She described London as the class clown who could get anyone laughing and always had an optimistic view of the world.
London’s friend Charline Dennis described her as free-spirited, eccentric and funny. “I heard the story about the sheriff’s office finding a body, but I never would have guessed in a million years it would have been her,” Dennis said.
“She was a beautiful, beautiful, awesome person,” said another friend, Lisa, who asked that her last name not be used because she met London through Alcoholics Anonymous meetings about four years ago.
“I know when she had her baby, everything was good in her life and she was sober,” Lisa said. “She was devoted to her little girl.”
London’s friends said they were shocked to learn of the state in which her body was discovered.
“I can’t even wrap my brain around it,” Dennis said.
London’s body was found badly burned, next to a pile of dead branches and other agriculture waste, as well as a “burnt refrigerator dolly,” according to witnesses at the scene.
Detectives are trying to determine if that location is the crime scene or if she died elsewhere and was taken to the field and set afire.
Bejaran said no suspects have been identified.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Detective Frank Soria at (209) 525-7080.
A fundraiser has been set up to help with funeral expenses and to set up a college fund for London’s daughter.
A candlelight vigil will be held for London on Friday at 7 p.m. at Leigh Bright Field at Charles Avenue and Fox Road in Hughson. People are encouraged to bring a candle, a balloon, a blanket and a story.