Two men were arrested Tuesday in connection to the 1973 killings of two girls in California in an investigation that went cold for decades until DNA testing linked the men to the case, including an Oklahoma man being held as an unregistered sex offender, authorities said.
Larry Don Patterson of Oakhurst, Oklahoma, and William Lloyd Harbour of Olivehurst, California, were taken into custody after newly tested DNA evidence linked both 65-year-old men to the case, according to a statement from Yuba County sheriff's officials in California.
The victims — 12-year-old Valerie Janice Lane and 13-year-old Doris Karen Derryberry — disappeared in November 1973, after a weekend shopping trip. The friends were from Olivehurst, California.
Authorities said they were driven to a wooded area near Marysville, north of Sacramento, and shot at close range with a shotgun. Their bodies were found along a dirt road.
The homicide case was an ongoing, active investigation until 1976, when the case went cold following no successful leads from the investigation, which involved more than 60 interviews.
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Then in March of 2014, Yuba County investigators reviewed the case for evidence that could be retested with newer technology. Items of evidence collected during the original investigation were reviewed and submitted to the California Department of Justice Forensic Labs for analysis. That December, testing revealed that DNA evidence was matched and identified the two men as suspects — and the case was reopened.
The U.S. Marshals Service said Patterson was arrested in Creek County, southwest of Tulsa. Patterson was being held in the local jail on multiple charges involving the deaths, but also was being held as an unregistered sex offender, according to Tommy Roberts, the supervisory deputy U.S. marshal in Tulsa.