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Investigators Seek Public Help In Decades Old Cold Case Murder Of 15-Year-Old Kerry Patterson

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) - Orange County sheriff's investigators put out a call Wednesday looking for anyone who might have information about the killing of 15-year-old Kerry Patterson, of Fullerton, four decades ago.

Cold Case 1
15-year-old Kerry Patterson, murdered in 1980.

Without any DNA evidence or anything else to go on in the 1980 murder, investigators hope renewed publicity might spur someone with relevant information to come forward and generate new leads.

"The biggest thing is somebody out there knows something related to this case," investigator Bob Taft told City News Service. "Perhaps somebody involved said something to somebody else, and at the time there was something that prevented them from coming forward."

"At this point, it's going to come down to somebody confessing to the crime. This one's especially difficult because we've got nothing to go on at this point," he added.

Taft said he has been working the case since the summer of 2019.

"(Kerry) had moved to the Sunny Hills area of Fullerton in the summer of 1980," Taft said. Her family had just relocated there from Cerritos two weeks prior to her disappearance on June 26, 1980.

The teen had met with a friend of hers from her old neighborhood at Ice Cream Castle, about a mile from her home, Taft said.

Then one of her friends gave her a ride on his bike and dropped her off near Parks Junior High School, about a quarter mile from her house, because that was where they had to part ways to get home, the investigator said.

An upper portion of Kerry's skull, her femur and two arm bones were all that was found on Dec. 27, 1980, in a field near Tonner Canyon and the 57 Freeway in Brea, Taft said.

Cold Case 2
Composite sketch of a man believed to be in the area when the teen disappeared.

In January of last year, someone came forward with information about a man they believed was in the area when Kerry was last seen. A description of the person led to a composite sketch. Investigators hope that if that person is identified, it may help generate new leads.

Convicted killer David Campbell, at one point in 1994, claimed he murdered William Raber of Buena Park because he suspected Raber killed Kerry, according to Taft. But investigators believe Campbell was lying and as a voracious reader of the news was able to pull together details of Kerry's case from news reports, Taft said.

At the time of Kerry's killing, abductions of teens were not so unusual.

"Unfortunately, in doing this investigation, I came to realize that the abduction of teenage girls was somewhat commonplace in Southern California," Taft said. "So there were a lot of males out there convicted of killing teenage females."

Anyone with helpful information was asked to call Taft at 714-647-7045 or email Orange County Crime Stoppers will accept anonymous tips at 855-TIP-OCCS.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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