California cops say the women were raped and found dead by their children in the 1970s. The suspect has been identified
Decades after the rape and murder of two women in Northern California, DNA helped identify the suspect, police say.
Fred Bernard Farnham, who died in 2007, has been identified as a suspect in the cold case murder Nellie Hicks in 1972 And Teresa Pica in 1979The Newark Police Department and Hayward Police Department said in news releases on Feb. 8.
“Forty-five years is a long timeHayward Police Chief Brian Matthews said in a news conference reported by CBS News. “It’s been a long time coming for the generations of investigators who worked this case, and it’s been a long time coming for the victims’ families and our community waiting for answers.”
In May 1972, “Mrs. Hicks was brutally attacked inside her Newark home while family members were sleeping Captain Julie Macias He said in a press conference.
Police said the suspect likely entered the home through a back door.
Police said Hicks’ son found her dead inside their home after the attack.
Police said the 59-year-old man was sexually assaulted and died of blunt force trauma.
Police said DNA was collected from the autopsy.
However, because DNA technology did not exist at the time, the case remained cold despite decades of investigation, according to police.
In 1979, an officer from the Hayward Police Department contacted Newark police, Macias said. They had a case of rape and murder with a “clear pattern of suspicious behaviour”.
Nearly seven years after Hicks was found dead, Becca, 48, was found dead by her three children inside her home in Hayward, just 12 miles north of Newark, on May 21, 1979, police said.
“The scene was disturbing to say the least,” Matthews said.
Police said Becca was sexually assaulted and then killed.
The suspect likely entered the home through an open window or door, according to police.
As in Hicks’ case, DNA has been collected but there is no technology to test it, police said.
Although there were no leads in the case, it always shared the same suspect as the Hicks case, according to Macias.
Genetic genealogy leads to identity
Once the Joint DNA Index System, the FBI’s criminal justice database, was established, police sent the file DNA profile of the suspect For testing, Othram, the forensic genetic genealogy company that assisted in the case, said in a Feb. 8 news release.
Even then, there were no infections, and the cases remained cold, the company said.
Hayward police shifted their investigative efforts to forensic genetic genealogy in 2021, according to the company.
Genetic genealogy DNA testing is used alongside “traditional genealogical methods” to create “family history profiles,” according to the Library of Congress. Through genealogical DNA testing, researchers can determine if and how people are biologically related.
After obtaining samples from police, Outram said he created a “comprehensive DNA profile” of the suspect.
This file was turned over to investigators who worked with the FBI to identify the suspect through genetic genealogy, the company said.
Those efforts led police to identify Farnham as the suspect in the Hicks and Pica cases, police said.
“Today is really about these families and their resilience over the last 50 years,” Macias said.
Becca’s daughter, Jean Whelan, 62, told the San Francisco Chronicle that while it was a “good thing” to know the identity of the suspect after all these years, it was also a “good thing.”He stirred everything up once again.”
“For most of my life, I blamed myself for not being able to stop what happened, and it was only a few years ago that I was finally able to tell myself that there was nothing I could do,” Whelan told the newspaper. “But it still hurts. Now this will help me get it over with.”
Macias said Hicks’ son, who found her dead inside their home, died just three months before her case was solved.
Another son, David Hicks, now 76, told the San Francisco Chronicle that although her death “is still difficult,” it “means everything and makes your heart feel good that they finally know who did this.”
There may still be more victims
Farnham died in an Oregon hospital at the age of 73, according to police.
Police said he had “several previous convictions for rape” for which he had served prison time.
If he were still alive, he would be considered a “serial sex offender/murder,” according to police.
Police said they believe Farnham could have had additional victims.
Any law enforcement agencies that may have similar situations are asked to contact police at 510-293-7176.
Newark is about 40 miles southeast of San Francisco, while Hayward is about 30 miles southeast.
(tags for translation) Newark Police Department