DNA Links Inmate to a 1977 Fresno Murder

December 23, 2008 6:26:42 PM PST
New technology has breathed life back into a Fresno murder case that's more than 30 years old. Susan Vallin was just 21 at the time of her murder in her Central Fresno neighborhood.Susan Vallin was found murdered in this neighborhood back in 1977. The suspect in this case, Larry Banks, is serving time right now at the Avenal State Prison for a 1993 armed robbery.

Thanks to new technology involving DNA evidence, Fresno Police were able to track him down.

On May 10th, 1977, 21-year-old Susie Vallin was walking through this Central Fresno neighborhood when she was forced into an ally, sexually assaulted and murdered.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said, "She was found lying in a pool of blood and she was partially nude and had received numerous stab wounds to her neck."

Back then, Fresno Police had few leads. Margaret Pfister and her husband remember being questioned by police.

"We knew what happened. When the police came to the door, he wanted to know if we heard anything. We didn't hear anything," said Pfister.

This is the area where Susan Vallin's body was found more than thirty years ago. Fresno police preserved the clothing she was wearing that night, which later led them to their suspect, Larry Banks.

In 1999, after advances were made in DNA technology, Fresno Police detectives turned over Vallin's clothing to the Department of Justice. Nearly ten years later, federal investigators found a match.

"The match was for biological evidence that was found on the victim's clothing and it matched that of Larry Banks," said Chief Jerry Dyer.

Susie Vallin's family says they are still grieving.

The last 31 years have been a long road. It's still a day by day painful thing for her and her siblings," said Norman Hammer's.

But that their sorrow will finally, after 31 long years ... turn into justice.

"On behalf of the Vallin family, we want to thank the Fresno Police Department for their hard work, their determination to solve this case and we look forward to seeing this man, I guess I'll say in the courtroom stand trial for this," said Hammer's.

Investigators do have an arrest warrant out for Larry Banks. He will be transferred from Avenal State Prison to Fresno in a few weeks to be formally charged with murder.

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