ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - It's a type of cold case the Office of the Medical Investigatorhad never seen before, and it's a case that took 34 years tosolve.
In Gallup in 1975 a man shot a 16-year-old girl in a conveniencestore and left her for dead.
Police had good leads. Witnesses said the suspect left in agreen van, and someone sketched the man's face on the gas stationpaper towel.
Gallup police scoured the area, but the killer was still able toslip away.
The focus then turned to the young woman he murdered. She hadno identification, no fingerprints on file, and police didn't knowwho she was.
"(We) sent out flyers to police departments across the country"Gallup Police Department Deputy Chief John Allen said. "'Is anybodymissing anybody matching this description?'"
The teenager nicknamed "Jane Doe" was buried in an unmarkedgrave in Gallup. The case file over the years grew, but detectivesdid not forget about it and occasionally cracked open the file.
But recently Terry Coker, a former Gallup officer who now worksfor the OMI, took another look at the case.
Terry Coker found that DNA had been collected in 1975. So Cokerran it through the CODIS, the Combined DNA Index System , a nationaldatabase managed by the FBI that only became fully operational in1998.
"DNA for this case was the saving grace," Coker said. He got aninitial DNA hit and also found a match on the Doe Network, a volunteer group that postsreports of missing persons and helps identify victims.
Investigators exhumed the body to collect additional DNA andfinally learned their Jane Doe was Pamela Mulligan's sister,Candace Lynn Starr, 16.
"My cell phone rang," Mulligan told KRQE News 13 during aninterview in her Idaho home. "When I looked at it, it was the 505area code.
"I shook my head took a deep breath, and it was TerryCoker."
Starr's ex-boyfriend, Michael Singh, 30, snatched Starr from herLos Angeles home on Sept. 21, 1975, as two younger sisters watchedhelplessly.
"He grabbed her around the neck and forcibly drug her out of thehouse at gunpoint, with the gun at her head," Mulligan said.
Over the past four decades Mulligan said she knew her sister wasdead. She just didn't know where and she didn't know if she wouldever find out.
"It bothered me that she was in the desert for 34 years byherself," Mulligan said.
Singh, a military veteran, was a violent man. In 1977 he wasconvicted of shooting and killing his new wife and was sent toprison.
With good time he was on work release and escaped.
His killing spree continued when Singh beat his second wife todeath with a shovel in 1982. Singh then was committed to the FultonState Mental Hospital in Missouri.
But he will never face charges for Starr's murder. In 2005another Fulton State patient killed Singh.
"Justice was served," Mulligan said.
Starr finally got the dignity she deserved when her body wasreturned home to California.
Her family is grateful to the Los Angeles Police Department andeveryone who has helped with the investigation in New Mexico.
Donations are being taken at Wells Fargo Banks in Sandpoint,Idaho. All the money will go to the New Mexico Crime VictimsReparation Commission that helps victims of New Mexico crimes.
Donations can be mailed to:
Wells Fargo Sandpoint
The Candace Lynn Starr Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 1528
Sandpoint ID 83864
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