PRESCOTT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Twenty-five years ago, a shocking crime scene in Dewey, Arizona, became headline news around the country.

A missing California girl had been found dead, but it was how she was found that was not only unusual but extremely inhumane.

[WATCH: The story behind a 25 year old murder case that shocked the nation]

"It's been three days, and nobody can find 23-year-old Denise Huber," an old news report from 1991 said.

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"The Newport Beach woman was last seen heading home from a concert at The Forum early Monday morning," a reporter said on camera from another old report.

Huber's parents Ione and Dennis remember that day, and what their daughter told them before she left for the concert.

"She stuck her head in the door, we were watching television, and she just said, 'I love you both. Don't worry about me,' and she left," Dennis said.

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In June of 1991,Denise had gotten a flat tire on a Costa Mesa highway and pulled over to get help and was never heard from again.

In June of 1991, her disappearance gripped Californians, playing on televisions across the state.

Denise had gotten a flat tire on a Costa Mesa highway and pulled over to get help.

Her car was found abandoned on the freeway.

She was never seen again.

Four hundred miles away from the bustling California suburb was a place much different.

It was Prescott, Arizona.

"A lot of history here," said Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher. "It's still that quaint, small-town feel."

"Had you heard of Denise Huber?" asked reporter Briana Whitney.

"Never... before this," said Mascher.

That changed in July of 1994.

Twenty-five years ago, Mascher was a young lieutenant for the department.

He made a call to California authorities, shocked he was making it at all.

"I remember when I first called them and said I have a missing person, and I gave them the name of Denise Huber. They were like, what?!" he recalled.

[RELATED: Images from cold storage killer case in Arizona]

Denise had been found three years later, but in a way nobody ever expected.

"It never leaves our mind."

And it all started with a young couple who owned a Phoenix paint supply business.

"It never leaves our mind," said Elaine Court.

She owned the business with her then-boyfriend, now-husband, Jack Court.

"There was a swap meet in Prescott Valley that was nice and cool," said Jack.

The two met a man there that July in '94.

Jack Court.

Elaine and Jack Court helped discovery Denise's body.

His name was John Famalaro, who painted houses and had extra paint to sell.

He said he had moved from California six months ago.

"We made arrangements after the swapmeet Sunday to go to his house and buy some from him," said Jack.

His address was 685 Cochise Drive in Dewey.

Discovery of Denise Huber's body

It was just a short distance away from the swapmeet, where Jack and Elaine noticed something odd on his driveway.

"The Ryder truck he said he used to move back was sitting alongside his driveway and grass had grown up 6-8 inches above the wheels," Jack said.

They thought he might have stolen it.

"I mentioned to Elaine, without being obvious, get the number on the Ryder truck," said Jack.

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The Courts reported the truck to police.

The two wrote down the license plate and serial numbers and left.

They gave it to a Phoenix Police detective, who happened to pick up a paint order from them that week.

While he was at their store, his beeper went off.

"I only heard him say, 'A body? A freezer?' He said, 'She's right here.' And he said, 'Det. Mascher in Prescott wants to talk to you,'" recalled Elaine.

Mascher and his team found out the Ryder truck had never been returned to California.

And when they opened it they found paint supplies, but way in the back was a large freezer with electrical cords plugged in.

So they opened it.

"There were big black plastic bags in there, and you could tell something was in it. He felt those bags and said, 'I believe I feel an arm," Mascher said.

Inside was a dead woman in the fetal position, frozen and handcuffed.

For days, they waited to thaw her out.

And once they got a fingerprint, they made the identity.

It was Denise.

"I remember talking with the family, the father and the mother and it was really hard," Mascher said somberly.

The search of Famalaro's home began, and the evidence found inside was overwhelming.

Denise's clothes, her concert ticket, weapons and Los Angeles Sheriff's Office uniforms were all collected from his house.

cold storage killer

John Famalaro is on death row.

Mascher believes Famalaro had posed as law enforcement to act like he would help her.

"He hit her with the hammer. I don't think that was the blow that killed her. He took her to his vehicle, and I think he drug her because the back of her shoes that we recovered from the residence showed the back of the heels were rubbed off," Mascher said.

Then he said Famalaro took her to a storage unit.

"And I believe that's when he probably at some point, whether it was real quick or slow, used the nail bar to kill her," he said.

"I hadn't given up, but when she was found, it was final. She was never going to come back. We were never going to find her, and it was all over then," Dennis said.

Other victims?

"The question that everybody has is, do you believe there are more victims out there?" Whitney asked Mascher.

"I do. I don't think this is the first time he had done something like this," he said. "We had interviewed some other girls that knew him."

One woman they interviewed was a Phoenix prostitute.

"He had taken her out into some remote area in Phoenix, and she said she had to fight to get out of the car and run into the desert to escape from being killed," Mascher said. "She had never reported it to police, but we had her driver's license because she had left her purse in the car."

"And you found her license in the house?" asked Whitney.

"Yes," Mascher said.

And that wasn't all. They found nearly 12 driver's licenses of other women too.

"And a lot of clothing, female clothing, dresses, underwear, shoes," he said.

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They excavated the site but they never found anyone else.

But even though cadaver dogs detected a human scent under his home, and they excavated the site, they never found anyone else.

The case that captivated the media came to an end.

Famalaro now sits on death row in California.

The spotlight dimmed, and left in its place was a small town that has healed but will never forget.

"Prescott has its own very historical, colorful past, and unfortunately this bad incident ties into the rest of it," Mascher said.

But for a case that's closed, open wounds remain.

And those may never go away.

"I do believe there are other victims and I'd like to know who they, where they are, what happened to them," Mascher said.

The question Denise's parents have had all these years is why her.

Possible motive behind the murder

But last year, they got new information that may have given them an answer.

Twenty-four years after Denise's body was found, they received a letter from somebody close to Famalaro.

They called that man, who told them when Denise went missing, Famalaro had recently dated a woman who left him, and that girl looked just like Denise.

"She looked almost like twins. She looked a lot like her, same cut of hair, same kind of car and all of that," Ione said.

[WATCH: Parents explain on why murder victim Denise Huber was targeted]

cold storage killer

Denise's parents believe their daughter was attacked because she looked like Famalaro's former lover.

"Same make, model, car, color of car that Denise drove," Dennis said.

"So they felt it might have been mistaken identity, or, maybe when he saw that it just made him snap," Ione said.

"And you just learned this last year?" asked Whitney.

"Yes," they both said. "After 20-something years, he sent the letter. That was so amazing," said Dennis.

They'll never know if that's for sure the case, but they said that brought them some closure after all these years.

 


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