In 1977, two very young children were traumatized by the horrific sexual assault and murder of their mother. To make matters worse, the perpetrator knew the tiny four and seven-year-olds were present. He simply told them to not look as he raped and fatally stabbed their mom in the neck. Unfortunately for the youngsters, the crime has remained unsolved for almost 40 years.
Their mother, Leona Davis, was a 25-year-old resident of Los Angeles when the tragedy occurred. Investigators at the scene collected and preserved fingerprints and DNA samples, but they didn’t find a potential match until recently. The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that they began focusing on Kenneth Ray Matthews when they discovered his fingerprints in a database. The prints matched the fingerprints preserved in the 1977 unsolved murder case.
Next, investigators from the Robbery-Homicide Division attempted to collect a DNA sample from Matthews. After some time, they were able to recover Matthew’s DNA from a utensil he discarded last year. Investigators compared the sample to DNA collected from the 1977 rape kit, and they found a match.
Matthews was arrested, and he will be charged with capital murder. He is currently being held without bail, and prosecutors are deciding whether they will pursue the death penalty in the event Matthews is convicted. Although it’s believed that the suspect also raped and robbed the victim, a press release confirmed that those charges have expired and won’t be pursued.
This significant case marks the second time in the last several weeks that investigators in California have successfully utilized DNA to crack cold cases.