AP NEWS

Police use DNA testing to solve 1982 killings of 2 teenagers

December 18, 2019 GMT

FREMONT, Calif. (AP) — Detectives in the San Francisco Bay Area solved the 1982 killings of two teenagers by using advanced DNA testing that led them to a man who has been dead for 20 years, police said.

Clifton Hudspeth, who died in 1999, has been identified as the suspect in the killings of Mary Jane Malatag and Jeffrey Flores Atup, who were cousins and both 16, the East Bay Times reported Wednesday.

Both the teens were shot, and Malatag was sexually assaulted. To confirm Hudspeth’s suspected involvement, his remains were exhumed and his DNA was extracted and tested, Fremont police said.

They turned to a technique that traces a suspect’s family line, which was also used to help catch a suspect in a series of rapes and slayings blamed on the Golden State Killer in the 1970s and ’80s.

“Our family over the years had lost hope in believing that we would ever have justice in knowing who did this and as to what had happened to them,” the family of the two teenagers said in a statement through police.

The cousins were last seen walking to Atup’s home in Milpitas, but they never made it.

Their bodies were found on Dec, 19, 1982, in neighboring Fremont. Police said an “extensive investigation” was done, but the case went cold.

In 1999, Fremont detectives began to look at the case again, finding “key DNA evidence” that was uploaded into state and national DNA databases “in an attempt to find a match to the known offender.” None surfaced.

In 2018, Jacob Blass, the department’s cold case homicide detective, had modern DNA testing done on the evidence.

Investigators contacted Virginia-based Parabon NanoLabs, which used so-called investigative genetic genealogy to help detectives look into the possible suspect’s familial line, identifying Hudspeth, police said.

Hudspeth lived in Milpitas, “relatively close” to where the teenagers had been seen walking. He had a history of violence including bank robberies, sexual assaults and attempted homicide, police said.

Hudspeth had a medical condition and died at 48, police said. They believe he acted alone, and a motive for the killings is unclear.