Police said Wednesday that DNA evidence led to the identification of a man who died in 2003 as the suspect in the kidnap-murder of an 11-year-old girl in Torrance in 1972.
Terri Lynn Hollis left her home in the 2600 block of Dalemead Street on Thanksgiving Day to go for a bike ride, and never returned. Her body was found the following day by two fishermen on a cliff in Oxnard near Point Mugu. An autopsy showed she had been strangled and sexually assaulted.
At a news conference Wednesday morning at Torrance police headquarters, authorities named the suspect in the killing as Jake Edward Brown, who died in Arizona in 2003.
Brown’s body was exhumed, and a Florida lab determined that his DNA was a match to evidence collected by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, said Torrance police Chief Eve Irvine.
“DNA Labs International was successful in extracting DNA evidence from the bones collected by the detectives and they and were able to confirm that the bone remains of Jake Edward Brown were a one in 20 septillion match to the evidence collected from Terri Lynn Hollis,” Irvine said.
The chief said Brown “had prior arrests for narcotics, robbery and two rapes that occurred after the murder of Terri Lynn. The first rape occurred in 1973 and the second in 1974. Under these very unfortunate circumstances, we are still proud to say that this case has been solved, but detectives will continue to investigate to see if he was involved in any other unsolved crimes.”
“This crime is what nightmares are made of, and no family should ever have to go through such a tragedy,” Irvine said.
Randy Hollis, the victim’s brother, told reporters he was 16 when his sister was murdered.
“When you think about it, 47 years, it’s amazing that we’ve come to this day. I only wish that my parents were still alive to see this,” he said, his voice breaking. “Obviously a lot was taken from us that day … Thanksgiving Day, I always allow for a private moment to remember Terri.”
Referring to the four-plus decades that Torrance police spent trying to track down his sister’s killer, Hollis said: “This was a case that detectives would just not let go, and they continued to follow up leads throughout the years.” He added that “some of these detectives weren’t even born when this happened.”
“… What we’d say to the many other parents and relatives and to the associated police departments in those … unresolved cases of young children gone missing and found dead without resolution, don’t lose the heart or the drive to get resolution,” he said. “You just never know when something can come up and lead to a case being solved.”
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