25-Year Old Cold Case Solved

May 29, 2008 8:28:33 PM PDT
A 25-year old murder has been solved, and investigators say the suspects are serial killers.Wilbur Jennings is already on death row for killing four other people. Alvin Johnson is serving time in a Utah prison for rape and murder as well.

The victim was 76 year old Clarice Reinke she was raped and murdered in her rural home in 1983. The sheriff says DNA helped investigators track down the suspects who were already serving time for the same brutal crimes.

Family members escorted by District Attorney Elizabeth Egan wiped away tears Thursday morning. More than 2 decades after their mother was sexually assaulted and strangled, the suspects will finally answer for the crime.

Margaret Mims, Fresno County Sheriff: "Clarice has been gone for 25 years. She no longer has her physical voice. But her DNA speaks for her."

Evidence collected at the home near Easton where Clarice Reinke was killed matched that of 67 year old Alvin Johnson and convicted serial killer 68 year old Wilbur Jennings.

Jennings is on death row for 4 other murders in Fresno County. Sheriffs say most of his victims were prostitutes. But Reinke, was an elderly woman who lived alone.

Elizabeth Egan, Fresno County District Atty: "There was nothing cold about this case for the surviving family members they've been waiting everyday and every year for today."

Murder charges alleging special circumstances were filed against Johnson Tuesday and they are expected to follow for Jennings.

Sheriff's will not say whether the suspects knew Reinke prior to the evening they are accused of breaking in her home and eventually killing her.

Deputies nicknamed Jennings the ditchbank killer in 1984 since his victims were often found in canals or stuffed in irrigation pipes.

Detectives won't say how Johnson and Jennings knew each other. Johnson was set to be released next year from a Utah prison where he's serving time for rape and murder there.

Family members who declined to be interviewed were grateful detectives finally cracked the case.

Jones is expected to be extradited back to California for arraignment.


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