WHITTIER (CBS) — Murder and rape charges were filed Friday against a Kansas man after he was linked by DNA to the 1981 rape and murder of a Whittier woman, police said.

Blanca Stella Negrete, 21, was raped and strangled to death in a home in the 7600 block of Washington Avenue in Whittier on June 27, 1981. Whittier police say that at the time of the homicide, detectives exhausted all leads and were not able to identify a suspect.

blanca stella negrete Kansas Man Charged In 1981 Rape, Murder Of Whittier Woman

Blanca Stella Negrete (credit: Whittier Police)

Homicide detectives reopened the case in May 2010, sending sexual assault evidence possibly containing DNA to the Los Angeles County Crime Lab for processing. In January of 2011, the DNA was entered into a national database and matched to a man named Joseph Allen Thornton, according to Whittier Police.

Detectives say they discovered Thornton had been living in Topeka, Kan. for several years. Whittier police homicide detectives, working with Placer County Sheriff’s deputies, arrested Thornton at a home in Auburn, Calif. on Wednesday on suspicion of murder.

Police did not say why Thornton was in California.

Thornton, who is being held without bail, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.


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