DNA from 1973 California killings leads to arrests

September 14, 2016
Larry Don Patterson

Larry Don Patterson

Authorities have arrested two men for the 1973 slayings of two Northern California girls who were 12 and 13 years old at the time of their deaths. Semen that was found on one of the victims matched the DNA of both suspects. [CBS News]

The suspects, a pair of 65-year-old cousins, had there DNA in the system because of prior arrests. One of the men is a convicted sex offender. Both are now facing murder charges.

On Nov. 12, 1973, the mothers of Olivehurst girls Valerie Janice Lane, 12, and Doris Karen Derryberry, 13, reported their daughters missing after they did not return home from a shopping mall they had visited the previous day.

Hours later, the girls were found along a dirt road in a wooded area near Marysville, which is north of Sacramento. The girls had been shot at close range with a shotgun.

Investigators conducted more than 60 interviews but failed to generate any successful leads. The case went cold in 1976.

In March 2014, Yuba County investigators reviewed the evidence collected during the original investigation and submitted it to the California Department of Justice Forensic Labs for analysis.

The testing, which was completed in Dec. 2014, revealed a match between the DNA at the scene and the DNA of William Lloyd Harbour and Larry Don Patterson.

Willam Lloyd Harbour

Willam Lloyd Harbour

Detectives then reopened the investigation. Several of the original investigators, as well as the pathologist who conducted the autopsy, had already died by the time authorities reactivated the case.

Investigators searched in five different states for Patterson, who had moved to Oakhurst, Oklahoma. Harbour still lives in Olivehurst.

Officers arrested both suspects on Tuesday. Patterson is being held in an Oklahoma jail as he awaits an extradition hearing.

Harbour served stints in prison for drug offenses in 1997 and 2003. Patterson was behind bars for a 1976 arrest on charges of raping two adult women in Chico. He was also arrested in 2006 for failing to register as a sex offender.

The suspects’ criminal histories enabled authorities to collect their DNA.