43 Years After Girls' Slayings, 2 Arrests

Cousins to be charged in cold case after California finally tested rape kit from 1973
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2016 8:24 AM CDT
43 Years After Girls' Slayings, 2 Arrests
Larry Don Patterson   (Yuba County Sheriff's Department via AP)

Authorities have finally made arrests in the death of two girls in California more than 40 years later. Police say 65-year-old cousins Larry Patterson and William Harbour murdered Doris Derryberry, 13, and Valerie Lane, 12, after they vanished from a shopping mall in 1973. The girls were found dead, each shot by a shotgun, beside a dirt road in Marysville hours after they were reported missing, per the AP. Doris had been sexually assaulted and semen was collected from her body. However, it was only sent for testing in March 2014 by an investigator who "had a bit of free time and really looked very closely at this case," Sheriff Steve Durfor tells the AP.

The semen matched DNA samples taken from Patterson and Harbour during previous arrests, police say. Patterson—convicted of rape in 1976 and wanted for failing to register as a sex offender, per Reuters—was arrested Tuesday in Oklahoma. Harbour, who has felony drug convictions, was also arrested Tuesday in the girls' hometown of Olivehurst, Calif. The men were 22 at the time of the murders. After "decades of suffering and grief," Durfor says the girls' families can finally have some closure. They "have waited ... for 43 years for an answer as to what happened to their kids," adds a Yuba County DA. (This missing woman could be buried on the Cal Poly campus.)

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