DNA Links Ex-Police Tech to 1984 Beach Murder

Claire Hough, 14, found dead on San Diego's Torrey Pines State Beach
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2014 6:45 AM CDT
DNA Links Ex-Police Tech to 1984 Beach Murder
Beachgoers sit under a tall sandstone bluff at Torrey Pines State Beach in San Diego on Aug. 20, 2008.   (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

San Diego police have named two suspects in a teen girl's cold-case murder, including a former San Diego Police Department criminologist. DNA evidence found in November 2012 led police to Ronald Clyde Tatro and Kevin Charles Brown—though as of Tuesday, both men are dead. Claire Hough, 14, was found strangled with sand pushed into her mouth at Torrey Pines State Beach on Aug. 24, 1984, the Los Angeles Times reports. One of her breasts had been cut off. Brown, who processed evidence for the force from 1982 to 2002 but was not "assigned to any part of the murder investigation," knew he was a person of interest, FOX 5 reports. The 62-year-old was found dead in a state park on Tuesday, and his death has been ruled a suicide. Tatro was 67 when he died in a 2011 boating accident in Tennessee.

Officers had been building a case against Brown over the last two years and were planning an arrest, NBC San Diego reports. "I can only surmise that was part of the reason" he killed himself, a police rep says. Authorities aren't saying what kind of DNA evidence led them to the suspects, how the two men knew each other, or their relationship to the victim. The Rhode Island teen had been visiting her grandparents at the time of her death; it's unclear why she went to the beach that night. Police continue to investigate a similar killing at the same beach in August 1978. The body of Barbara Nantais, 15, was found beaten and strangled, with one breast cut. Police say there's no evidence to link the murders. "We are not treating them as related cases," a rep tells the AP. (A TV show helped bring about an arrest in a 1997 murder.)

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