Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

SANTA ANA, Calif. – The 1976 rape and murder of a 19-year-old Garden Grove nursing student has been solved by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Garden Grove Police Department through the use of investigative genetic genealogy.

Terry Dean Hawkins has been identified as the person responsible for the rape and murder of 19-year-old Janet Stallcup who was on her way to a party on December 19, 1976. Stallcup never made it to the party. Her body was found eight days later inside her car about 2 ½ miles from her apartment.

Hawkins died in the Orange County Jail in 1977 without ever being identified as the suspect in Stallcup’s murder, but generations of Garden Grove police officers never gave up on the cold case.

In 2002, the Orange County Crime Lab obtained a single source male DNA profile from swabs taken from the crime scene. Unfortunately, the profile never matched with any other profile in the CODIS database.

In 2020, the Garden Grove Police Department asked the District Attorney’s Office to open an investigative genetic genealogy investigation into the Stallcup rape and murder. That investigation, which included DNA testing of biological tissue from Hawkins’ autopsy, ultimately led to Hawkins being identified as the perpetrator. The United States Marshal Service was instrumental in identifying this suspect

Members of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Garden Grove Police Department recently met with the Stallcup family to inform them investigative genetic genealogy had finally solved Janet’s murder.

“We know who killed Janet Stallcup because generations of law enforcement officers refused to give up on finding her killer,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “Advances in technology and DNA is breathing life back into cases that have grown cold over the years. Justice that had been evasive for decades is now at our fingertips hidden away in DNA. Loved ones who have spent years wondering if they will ever have the peace of mind of knowing who killed their daughter, their sister, their friend, now know who is responsible. I want to thank the Garden Grove Police Department and the Science and Technology Unit at the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for their never-ending dedication to the pursuit of justice.”

“Advances in DNA technology have not only assisted in identifying Janet Stallcup’s murderer, but have become a valuable tool for law enforcement. This case would not have been solved without the determination of our detective unit and the support from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office Science and Technology Unit,” said Garden Grove Police Chief Tom DaRé. “We are thankful that through our partnership, we are finally able to bring closure to Janet Stallcup’s family and loved ones.”

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

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