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Man Who Killed La Palma Women in 1974 Arrested in Sonoma

(CNS) A 65-year-old man was charged today with strangling a 30-year-old woman in her La Palma apartment more than 40 years ago.

Larry Stephens of Santa Rosa is accused of killing Patricia Ross on the evening of Dec. 11, 1974, Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin said.

The Orange County Crime Lab played a key role in solving the case by matching the blood at the crime scene to Stephens, who had to submit a DNA sample in March when he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, the prosecutor said.
“They’re the reason this case has been solved,” Yellin said of the crime lab experts.

At the time of her death, Ross was in the process of selling her plant store business to take a job at Hughes Aircraft Co. She was getting ready for a double date when her killer attacked, Yellin said.

When Ross did not show up for the date, one of her friends went to check on her and found her naked body in her bedroom, Yellin said. Her small dog was found inside a drawer in the bedroom, he said.

Investigators suspect the dog may have bitten the killer because there were tiny smears of blood left behind, Yellin said.
Stephens is being held in the Sonoma County Jail, with no Orange County arrival or arraignment date immediately scheduled.

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