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OSP Detectives' Perseverance, DNA Evidence Help Bring Closure in 1971 Klamath Falls Murder Investigation
05/03/2010
Edwin Caleb, District Attorney
Klamath County District Attorney's Office
Office: (541) 883-5147
 
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
Office: (503) 731-3020 ext. 247

DNA technology not available while investigating a 1971 murder south of Klamath Falls helped Oregon State Police (OSP) detectives identify a suspect this month.  The investigation into the murder of Joyce Cross, a 19-year old female whose body was found on the south bank of the Lost River Diversion Canal near 9741 Spring Lake Road, took an unexpected turn when the 64-year old suspect from Klamath Falls took his own life shortly after OSP detectives served a search warrant April 14, 2010 to obtain a DNA sample.  The forensic DNA analysis subsequently linked the suspect to the woman's murder.
 
"The Oregon State Police detectives, especially Detective Dennis Yaws, did a phenomenal job in this matter.  Their work has allowed the victim's family to have closure, and it should also serve notice for those that commit serious crimes that law enforcement never gives up," said Klamath County District Attorney Ed Caleb.
 
The initial 1971 murder investigation revealed that the victim was killed near a haystack approximately 100 feet from where her body was found. Her clothing and other evidence was seized, and an autopsy indicated she died of a massive skull injury.  There were several potential suspects, but no arrests made.
 
On July 29, 2008, OSP Detective Dennis Yaws and Detective Stephanie Gourley, both assigned at the OSP Klamath Falls Area Command office, began a review of the Cross homicide case. One of their first agenda items was to send the victim's undergarments to the OSP Forensic Services Division Crime Lab for a possible DNA sample test—a forensic analysis procedure not available in 1971 when Cross was murdered.
 
OSP Forensic Scientists advised Detective Yaws that semen samples from two different men was detected on the victim's underwear.  Other evidence and the voluntary taking of a polygraph excluded one of the men as a suspect in the case.
 
During the spring of 2009, Detective Yaws was coaching a youth boys' baseball team when he noticed a suspect was attending the games. Detective Yaws alerted another OSP detective who attended a baseball game and collected a plastic peanut bag the suspect had discarded in the trash after opening the bag with his teeth, eating the peanuts, and discarding the shells in the bag. The peanut bag was sent to the OSP Crime Lab for a possible DNA match.  The subsequent forensic analysis confirmed that the suspects' DNA from the bag was consistent with the DNA sample from the victim's underwear seized during the 1971 investigation.
 
On April 6, 2010, Detective Yaws asked the suspect if he knew the victim and if he ever had a sexual relationship with her. The suspect denied knowing the victim and also ever having a sexual relationship with her.
 
On April 14, 2010, OSP detectives obtained a search warrant for saliva samples from the suspect.
 
On April 15, 2010, the warrant was served and a buccal sample obtained at approximately 12:15 p.m. Less than two hours later, at approximately 2:00 p.m., the suspect took his own life with a handgun.
 
A forensic analysis of the DNA sample taken from the suspect on April 15 was a match for the DNA found in the victim's clothing.
 
### www.oregon.gov/OSP ###