Kenneth Nevada Williams was identified as the body of a teen discovered in 1978

Kenneth Nevada Williams was identified as the body of a teen discovered in 1978

A body discovered in Southern California over four decades ago has been identified as a teenager from La Puente using DNA technology.

Kenneth Nevada Williams has been identified as “John Doe 1978,” whose remains were discovered on a residential street in Long Beach on June 3, 1978, according to a statement released by the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) on Wednesday.

15-year-old Williams ran away from his La Puente home the same year his body was recovered. Nobody ever reported him missing.

His hand was marked with the word “paid” at the time of his death.

“There was no identification, fingerprints were obtained, but the fingerprints did not match any databases,” LBPD detective Shea Robertson told ABC7 of the original finding of Williams’ death.

John Doe 1978 was linked to convicted serial killer Randy Kraft at first. Between 1972 and 1983, Kraft, also known as the “Freeway Killer,” raped, tortured, and murdered 16 young men in Southern California. Following an investigation, he was eliminated as a suspect.

The breakthrough in the 44-year-old case occurred in September, when murder police contacted the Othram lab in Texas to obtain a DNA sample of John Doe from 1978 for forensic genealogy purposes. Williams was subsequently matched to the sample.

Although authorities did not disclose how Williams died, they vowed to continue investigating his passing.

“In this scenario, justice delayed does not necessarily equate to justice denied. Kenneth Nevada Williams is now a confirmed victim, and identifying his murderer is the next step in solving this case, according to a statement issued by the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, Donald Alway.

Roxanne Jones, Williams’ sister, told ABC7 earlier this week that the family believed the teen had begun a new life abroad.

She told the source, “He wanted to live in the city, go to clubs, and have fun. He wasn’t into drugs or anything like that, he simply liked the bright lights and huge metropolis.”

“As soon as [the police] informed me that there was a familial DNA match, I knew who it had to be,” she explained.

The death of Williams is one of several cold cases that are inching closer to a conclusion as a result of advances in DNA technology. Using DNA from the murder weapon, authorities in Marysville, Washington made an arrest in the 1998 murder of Jennifer Brinkman last month.

“Solving this case has been at the top of the Marysville Police Department’s priority list for almost twenty-four years,” said Police Chief Erik Scairpon at the time.

“We have never given up or shelved this. It was persistently examined in the hope that one day we would be able to offer closure to Jennifer’s family and justice for Jennifer.”

 

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