Police Arrest Suspect In California Teen's 1980 Cold Case, Family Gets Justice

The family of a 14-year-old girl murdered 37 years ago may be finally getting some justice.

Fox News, citing the San Francisco Chronicle and East Bay Times as its sources, reported that law-enforcement officers have apprehended the man they believe killed Suzanne Bombardier. Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton announced that she planned to charge Mitchell Lynn Bacom, 63, with kidnapping, rape, murder, oral copulation and murder with the use of a deadly weapon.

The girl became a missing person on June 21, 1980, the morning after she was a babysitter for her nieces. A frantic search in her Bay Area community of Antioch ended after five days, when a fisherman found Bombardier’s body floating in the San Joaquin RIver, about 97 miles from the city.

Authorities said the teenager had been sexually assaulted and stabbed in the heart. Bacom eventually became a suspect because of DNA evidence.

Police credited Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons for helping solve the cold case. The author visited Bombardier’s headstone at a cemetery in 2014, which prompted her to create the “Lost Girl blog” as a compilation of information about the girl.

Gibbons set up a meeting involving retired Antioch police detectives Gregory Glod and Ron Rackley, one of Bombardier’s nieces and a friend of the victim. Authorities said the 2015 conversation led to the case being re-opened.

“My prayers have been answered," Glod said. “Probably not too many days have gone by that I haven’t thought about this case. ... This has made my life complete, to be quite honest with you.”

The Chronicle noted that the kidnapping and murder “jolted the nation and roiled a quiet East Bay suburb” 37 years ago. It became the oldest unsolved homicide in the city’s history. The mystery allegedly ended at 5 p.m. Monday, when officers nabbed Bacom, an Antioch resident who was known to his victim’s family.

Bombardier had been on the honor roll at Antioch Junior High School. People who knew the girl recalled her “bright eyes, blond hair and captivating smile,” according to the Chronicle, which reported: “Suzanne came to haunt the community and its Police Department. Friends remembered the slain teen for her bubbly spirit and ability to see humor in everything. She was commemorated in a junior high yearbook for having the best smile in her class. She swooned over Rod Stewart ballads and wanted to be a cheerleader.”

According to the newspaper, the case became “a lingering obsession” for Glod and Rackley.

After police resumed their investigation, they sent DNA evidence from Bombardier’s body to a forensic laboratory at the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. Technicians at the facility, employing a DNA index system the FBI created decades after the murder, found that the DNA profile matched Bacom.

“When the biological evidence was collected in this case, DNA testing did not exist as a method of determining guilt in our justice system,” Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks explained at a press conference following the suspect’s arrest. The Police Department released a written statement reading: “It was through patience, persistence, networking, modern investigative techniques and scientific advances that this case was solved.”

Source: Fox News
Photo: Fox News

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