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Genetic genealogy identifies suspect in brutal 1970 killing of Sacramento-area woman

52-year-old Sacramento County cold case solved with new technology
52-year-old Sacramento County cold case solved with new technology 02:12

SACRAMENTO – A suspect has finally been identified in a Sacramento-area murder case that had gone cold for years.

Nancy Bennallack was found murdered in her Arden Way and Bell Avenue apartment back in October 1970. The 28-year-old had been working as a court reporter in Sacramento County. She was last seen alive by her fiancé, Chief Public Defender Farris Salamy, the night of October 25.

Bennallack's co-worker called her son to check on Nancy when she didn't show up to work the next morning.

After getting into the front door with a pass key from the apartment manager, that's when Bennallack was found dead. She had been stabbed over 30 times and was nearly decapitated.

A trail of blood was found leading from the balcony onto a sidewalk below and ending at the parking lot. Investigators at the time believed the murder suspect had cut himself during the attack.

Using those blood drops, a forensic DNA profile was compiled in 2004. The profile was uploaded to state and national databases, but no matches were made at the time.

However, in November 2019, detectives employed the new genetic genealogy techniques that had been recently used to catch the Golden State Killer.

On Wednesday, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office announced that a man by the name of Richard John Davis was Bennallack's suspected killer. He was 27 years old at the time of Bennallack's murder and was living in the same apartment complex as her, detectives say.

Bennallack's suspected killer died before he could be brought to justice, though. The sheriff's office said Davis died in Sacramento County on November 2, 1997. 

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