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How Did the Body of Penthouse Model End Up Washing Ashore at Camp Pendleton?

Anneka di Lorenzo in 1980 (United Press International, February 15th 1980.)
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The naked body of a woman authorities first thought was that of a teenager was discovered washed ashore at Camp Pendleton back on January 4, 2011, and now investigators are hoping the public can help determine how she came to be there. The woman was 58-year-old Anneka Vasta, also known as Anneka Di Lorenzo and Marjorie Thoresen, an actress and Penthouse "Pet of the Year" model from the 1970s.

"Federal agents have pursued the investigation for nine months, but they cannot say how Vasta got from the vista point, which sits atop 60-foot bluffs — to the rocky sand about a mile south," explains SignOnSanDiego.

Vasta was found with several injuries on her body--a broken neck, a broken back, two stab wounds to her chest, and shallow cuts on her wrist that suggest a meager suicide attempt--but investigators say they do not appear to be signs of foul play.

Now the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is asking the public if they know how Vasta came to be in San Diego County that day, and why she drowned.

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Vasta had been living in Los Angeles, working as a nursing assistant, having given up acting and modeling several years ago.

She appeared as a Penthouse pet in 1975, and also in a soft-core porn film, "Caligula," in 1979. According to her IMDB bio, "in 1988 she sued 'Penthouse' magazine publisher Bob Guccione on charges of sexual harassment," but "only won a measly $4.06 in damages" when all was said and done. A few years later Guccione fired back by publishing some old photos of Vasta. Vasta then retreated out of the limelight.

The Minnesota native who'd lived in Los Angeles since she was a teenager was, at the time of her death, divorced and having trouble holding steady work. Her sister says she suffered from some mental instability. The investigation shows Vasta left L.A. early in the morning of January 2, 2011. She drove "a maroon 2001 Mazda 626 sedan with many of her possessions loaded in the trunk and back seat."

Vasta secured a room at a Motel 6 near South Carlsbad State Beach, and never checked out; authorities say there was no evidence she made use of the room. Her last call was at about 8:30 that morning. Her car was found by the road with all her belongings, including her purse and phone, inside.

Vasta struggled, but it may have been only with herself:

[T]he Mazda did show signs of trauma. A woman’s leopard-print blouse and a sports bra, stained with blood, were wrapped in a plastic bag — the ice bucket liner from the Motel 6, investigators believe. A bloody steak knife was nearby, on the passenger floorboard. The blood belonged to Vasta. But it wasn’t enough blood to convince investigators that she was harmed in the car.

Lithium, for mood disorder, and an empty bottle of Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, were found in the car. But an autopsy showed no drugs in the dead woman’s body.

How did Vasta's life come to an end, by drowning, in the waters off Camp Pendleton? NCIS is "asking if anyone remembers seeing the attractive blond woman stopped along Interstate 5, where her car was found parked at a popular scenic overlook." Vasta's relatives do not believe it was a suicide.

If you have information about this case, you're urged to contact the NCIS field office, (760) 725-5150. Or, from a cellphone, text tips to 274637.

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