Orange County investigators have solved a 52-year-old rape-and-murder mystery, thanks to advances in DNA technology, police said Wednesday.
The rape and murder of an unidentified woman on March 14, 1968, at Newland Street and Yorktown Avenue had gone unsolved until investigators were able to identify the victim, said Huntington Beach Police Department Officer Angela Bennett.
“The suspect remained unidentified as well for 52 years, but we never gave up hope,” Bennett said. “There were several leads we looked into over the past five decades and nothing came forward until we were able to use DNA to then utilize genealogy to build a family tree (for the victim).”
Working with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, police were also able to identify the suspect.
The victim was Anita Piteau of Augusta, Maine, Bennett said.
The suspect was Johnny Chrisco, who died in 2015 and is buried in Washington state, Bennett said.
“This past weekend a few of us from Huntington Beach flew her remains to Maine and attended her funeral with surviving family members,” Bennett said.
“Piteau left Maine in search of a different life and she wanted to see Southern California,” Bennett said.
Piteau wrote home once, the officer said.
“It’s a letter they still had,” Bennett said. “She was never heard from again, so they didn’t know what happened. But they always looked for her and thought she was still alive. They never gave up hope, just like our investigators.”
Bennett added, “Very little is known about” the suspect, who was from Southern California.”