Two men charged on DNA evidence in 1978 rape and murder in California

Reuters News
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Posted: May 27, 2015 4:28 PM

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two men have been charged with murder in California in the 1978 cold case murder of a young mother who was abducted from a gas station where she worked, after DNA advances connected the men to the crime, authorities said on Wednesday.

Neal Matthews, 58, was arrested last week at his home in Lancaster, California, and Terry Moses, 59, was serving time in prison on an unrelated case when he was charged in this case, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

Both men are charged with murder with the special circumstance allegations that the slaying occurred in conjunction with a robbery, kidnapping and rape.

The charges stem from the slaying 37 years ago of Leslie Long, a 20-year-old mother of three.

Long was working at a gas station in Palmdale, northeast of Los Angeles, when two men entered with a handgun and robbed her, taking money from the safe and kidnapping her, the sheriff's department statement said.

They forced Long into a car and drove off, stopping in a deserted area where they raped her and then shot her dead, according to the department.

Shortly after the body was discovered, police launched a manhunt for the killers, but detectives at the time were unable to identify any suspects, the statement added.

Recently, due to advances in DNA technology, detectives were able to match sperm that was found on Long's body to Matthews and Moses, the department said.

A sheriff's department spokeswoman could not provide more details on how the DNA match was made, and a detective involved in the case could not be reached for comment.

Matthews, who has been held without bail since his arrest, appeared in court in Lancaster on Tuesday and was expected to return to court on June 16 along with Moses for an arraignment.

Lyall Beggs, an attorney for Matthews, could not be reached for comment and it was not immediately clear if Moses has an attorney.

Both men were active gang members at the time of Long's killing, the sheriff's department said. They also have prior convictions, including for robbery, prosecutors say.

Moses also was charged this week with two counts of murder in the 1976 slaying of two men and one count of attempted murder related to an attack on a man in 1996, according to the criminal complaint against him.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)