Two men arrested in 1973 murders of California girls

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 13, 2016 7:43 PM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two men linked through DNA testing to the 1973 murders of two girls in a small northern California town were arrested on Tuesday, more than four decades after the crime, authorities said.

William Lloyd Harbour, 65, was taken into custody on Tuesday morning at a traffic stop in Linda, California, some 40 miles south of Sacramento, the Yuba County Sheriff's Department said in a written statement.

Larry Don Patterson, also 65, was arrested in Oakhurst, Oklahoma. Both men were 22 at the time of the murders.

According to the sheriff's department, 13-year-old Doris Karen Derrybery and Valerie Janice Lane, 12, were reported missing on the morning of Nov. 12, 1973, after failing to return from a shopping trip to Linda the day before.

The bodies of the two close friends were found a few hours later alongside a dirt road in a wooded area of nearby Wheatland. They had been killed by shotgun blasts at close range.

The case remained unsolved until March 2014, when Yuba County Sheriff's investigators reviewing the case with improved forensic testing linked DNA evidence to Harbour and Patterson.

The DNA hit prompted a lengthy expanded investigation which culminated in the arrest of the two men, who were expected to face murder charges, the sheriff's department said.

Authorities did not offer a motive for the double slayings.

Meanwhile, more than 200 miles to the south, police and FBI agents spent last week digging at the edge of a California university campus looking for the remains of Kristin Smart, a freshman who disappeared 20 years ago.

There was no indication, however, that the two cases were related.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb, editing by G Crosse)