Tue. May 28th, 2024

Suspect identified 33 years after allegedly killing Southern California woman with rock

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May27,2024

VENTURA, Calif. (TCD) — Using forensic genetic genealogy, investigators recently identified a suspect in the 1991 cold case death of a 42-year-old woman whose remains were found along a hillside.

According to the Ventura Police Department, on the morning of Tuesday, July 16, 1991, officials found the body of Danielle Clause partially unclothed in a flood control catch basin near Tioga Drive. Officers said she showed signs of sexual assault and had died of blunt force injuries to her head.

Retired Lieutenant Douglas Auldridge said Clause was last seen on the evening of July 15, talking to a man driving a white truck. Clause’s husband reported her missing after she failed to return home that night. Officials collected evidence at the scene and tried locating the white truck matching the suspect’s vehicle description. However, investigators exhausted all leads, and the case went cold.

Ventura Police detective Tyler Buck reopened the case decades later with the help of lots of preserved evidence left over from the scene. A DNA profile had reportedly been submitted for the suspect, but investigators never found a match.

According to Buck, investigators combed through the evidence, including a rock they suspect was used to kill Clause. Additionally, officials reportedly found fingernail clippings that hadn’t been tested.

Forensic Specialist Gabrielle Wimer said in May 2021, investigators presented the untested evidence to compare the DNA to the sexual assault kit in the case. According to Wimer, the test would confirm or deny whether the murder and rape suspect were the same. As a result, police discovered there was a singular suspect in both the sexual assault and slaying of Clause.

Investigators created a family tree using forensic genetic genealogy, and according to Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko, they narrowed down two brothers, including one living one in Virginia and another deceased person of interest named Larry Welch. Authorities collected DNA samples from the living brother, and police identified Welch as the primary suspect.

According to police, Welch died in 1999, and “there was no known connection between” him and Clause at the time of the victim’s death.

Clause’s sister said she “was so much more than a victim of a brutal murder. She was an artist, a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a wife. She was a good person with a mighty soul, and she was taken way too young.”

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Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Suspect identified 33 years after allegedly killing Southern California woman with rock”
  1. Did they finally find a match for the DNA profile of the suspect they submitted? It’s amazing how forensic genealogy techniques can help solve cases like this after so many years.

  2. It’s truly remarkable how forensic genetic genealogy has finally led to identifying a suspect in this chilling cold case after 33 years. The dedication and perseverance of the investigators should be commended for bringing justice to the victim and closure to her family.

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