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Mummified woman had trained as teacher

Before death, homeless woman earned two master's degrees and moved around a lot, records show.

October 27, 2010|By Joseph Serna, joseph.serna@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — A homeless woman whose mummified remains were found in a car parked illegally in Costa Mesa last week worked in education in Los Angeles and held two master's degrees, according to police interviews with relatives and a review of public records.

Signe Margit, 59, had been on the move in the last decade, living in a dozen cities throughout California, Texas and Washington, records also show.

From Aug. 13, 2001 to Jan. 7, 2002, Margit worked with special education students at Audubon Middle School in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

She was issued a pre-intern teaching certificate for cross-cultural, language and academic development emphasis in California. The certificate was valid from August 2001 to September 2002 and was supported by the LAUSD. It allowed her in-class teaching experience with children who had emotional problems and mild-to-moderate learning disabilities.

She returned to the teaching field in Los Angeles years later.

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Costa Mesa Sgt. Ed Everett said she was working in a job, which he declined to identify, in Los Angeles County for three years until she was let go in August 2009.

She lived where she worked, he said, and her life only got more difficult when she lost her job and then her home.

Margit's former employer, among others, has helped police put together her past.

"In this particular case, the public was a big help because initially we didn't know, other than a potential first name. We didn't have any information to reference her," Everett said. "Luckily for us, her first name was unusual … we got several tips from different individuals calling about Signe."

Costa Mesa Police Department detectives have also been in contact with Margit's sister, who said Margit was once a teacher and had two master's degrees. Detectives would not release the name or exact location of Margit's family, saying only that they lived on the East Coast.

Police have made progress piecing together how Margit's dead body ended up in a former Corona del Mar real estate agent's car for up to 10 months before being discovered by a cadet last week. The driver, who reportedly had fallen on hard economic times herself, apparently continued to use the Mercury Grand Marquis even with Margit's corpse covered by clothing in the next seat.

Margit's

family had last heard from her in December, when they reported her missing to police.

"We believe she was taking care of herself," Everett said.

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