Man who died in prison suspected in 1985 California killing

January 25, 2022 GMT

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — A convicted rapist who died in prison has been identified as the suspect in the 1985 killing of a Southern California woman, authorities said Monday.

Helen Brooks was found dead at her apartment in the Mojave Desert town of Apple Valley on July 5, 1985 after friends and co-workers said they hadn’t heard from her in days.

San Bernardino County sheriff’s investigators learned that 37-year-old Robert Eugene Wortman met Brooks in the days before her murder and had been to her home, the sheriff’s department said in a statement.

“At the time, Wortman was interviewed by investigators, but he claimed he had no knowledge of Brooks’ murder and denied he went into her apartment. At the time, investigators were unable to prove Wortman was involved in Brooks’ murder,” the statement said.

The cold case was reopened last year and through “additional investigation and advancements in DNA technology,” investigators identified Wortman as the suspect in Brooks’ murder, officials said.

Wortman had an extensive, sexually violent criminal history and died in prison in 1995 while serving a 22-year sentence on an unrelated rape case in San Bernardino County, according to the sheriff’s department.