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UPDATE: Alameda Police Identify Suspect In 1977 Cold Case Murder

ALAMEDA (CBS SF) -- More than 45 years after Richard Bischel Sr. was killed in an attempted burglary, Alameda police have announced they have identified a suspect in the cold case murder.

Using the latest DNA technology, the department's new cold case unit was able to positively identify Richard Curley Bernard as the suspect in the case.

"The suspect is deceased, but the family of the victim now knows the identity of the perpetrator, and that law enforcement never stopped looking for him," said Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Mark Melton.

On March 16, 1977, the Alameda police officers responded to the 2500 Block of Lincoln Avenue for the report of an early morning stabbing.

At the time, investigators determined the victim, Richard Bischel, Sr., was stabbed a total of 10 times after confronting an individual who had attempted to burglarize his home.

Raw Video: Alameda Cold Case News Conference

Richard Bischel Sr. and his 17-year-old son, Richard Jr., had chasing the burglar down the street. The elder Bischel was well ahead of his son. When his son caught up, he found his father stabbed and the suspect gone.

The elder Bischel was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Bischel Jr. spoke about his father at Tuesday's news conference. "Dad was a good man. He would bend over backwards to help people out, even strangers," he said.

Richard Bischel Sr.
Richard Bischel Sr. was fatally stabbed in his Alameda home in 1977. In 2022 a suspect has been identified. (Alameda Police Department)

At the time, the initial investigation identified Bernard as a possible suspect, but due to limitation in DNA technology, charges could not be filed.

In 2021, the Alameda police department quietly established a cold case unit, comprised of a small team of a retired Alameda Police officers and two sergeants.

They submitted evidence in the case to the Serological Forensic Laboratory in Richmond for DNA examination. Based on other circumstantial evidence and DNA confirmation, Bernard was positively identified as the individual responsible for Richard Bischel Sr.'s death.

"People leave their DNA in so many different places, even a suspect is unaware of what they've done. When you go back and discover certain things, you realize, we can use this. You hope that when the DNA is pulled that it comes back to an individual that you can identify, and hopefully, make an arrest on," Cold Case detective Lorenzo Graham told KPIX 5.

A further investigation into Bernard revealed he was later arrested and convicted for a series of Alameda burglaries and two known rapes in 1977. Upon his release in 1983, Bernard was paroled to the State of Texas, and in 1989, Mr. Bernard was killed in the commission of another crime.

"It's been a long, hard road. But I'm glad we have a final resolution to this. On behalf of my family, my late mother, my two younger brothers, I'd like to just say thank you to everyone," Bischel Jr. said. "I don't know if there's any real closure, you know? It doesn't change a whole lot. But, we are glad we do have a final, positive ID, and we can go from there."

Max Darrow contributed to this report.

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