A Bakersfield man was charged Friday with capital murder for the slayings of two women in the 1980s, including a woman whose body was found in the trunk of her car in a Burbank parking lot.
Horace Van Vaultz Jr., 64, was linked through DNA to the June 9, 1986, sexual assault and asphyxiation of 22-year-old Mary Duggan, who was found dead in Burbank, and the July 16, 1981, sexual assault and strangulation of Selena Keough, a 20-year-old mother who was killed in San Bernardino County and dumped under bushes in Montclair, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey told reporters.
Vaultz is set to be arraigned Monday in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on two counts of murder, which include the special-circumstance allegations of lying in wait, murder during the commission of a rape and sodomy and multiple murders. The District Attorney’s Office will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against Vaultz, who was described by Burbank police Detective Aaron Kay as having a “criminal record consistent with this type of behavior.”
Vaultz — who had been under surveillance — was arrested Thursday during a traffic stop in the Inglewood area, the detective said.
Investigators had “turned to one of law enforcement’s newest crime-solving tools — investigative genetic genealogy” — to solve the two killings, which had been linked to a single suspect about two decades after the crimes, the district attorney said as family members of the two victims stood nearby.
“Those results linked a suspect to the crimes, giving law enforcement another vital piece of the evidence. Based on the match, the detectives then collected DNA from the defendant’s trash. The DNA matched the forensic evidence found in both crimes, giving us the evidence we needed to file murder charges against the suspect,” Lacey said.
The charges against Vaultz mark the first criminal prosecution in Los Angeles County involving investigative genetic genealogy, in which detectives access commercial DNA databases, load DNA material from the crime and find a relative’s match that can point toward a suspect, the district attorney said.
“Once you have a pool of suspects limited, you’re able to then go follow that person and get their DNA,” Lacey said.
Investigators are also trying to determine whether Vaultz may be linked to other unsolved crimes, the district attorney said.