BURBANK (CBSLA) – With the help of investigative genetic genealogy, a 64-year-old Bakersfield man has been arrested and charged with murdering two young women in Burbank and Montclair back in the 1980s.
According to Burbank police, Horace Van Vaultz Jr. was taken into custody Thursday morning in Inglewood in the 1981 murder of 20-year-old Selena Keough in Montclair, and the 1986 murder of 22-year-old Mary S. Duggan in Burbank.
Vaultz is charged with two counts of murder with the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders and that both crimes were committed during a rape and a sodomy as well as lying in wait for each victim.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office reports that on July 16, 1981, Keough was found murdered under some bushes on a Montclair street. She had been tied up, sexually assaulted and strangled. She was a mother.
On June 9, 1986, Duggan’s body was found in the trunk of a car in an empty Burbank parking lot outside a closed business. She had also been bound and sexually assaulted. She died from asphyxiation because a tissue had been shoved down her throat, the DA’s office said.
Burbank police were able to identify Vaultz as the suspect thanks to recently analyzed forensic evidence. The DA’s office reports that this is the first time that investigative genetic genealogy has been used in L.A. County to solve a crime.
Investigative genetic genealogy is a process in which genealogists take DNA profiles from a crime scene and try and find a close genetic match to a relative of the suspect, which they can then use to hone in on the suspect.
“Thanks to advances in technology and forensics, we are now able to virtually reach back in time and find those responsible for these vicious crimes,” L.A. County DA Jackie Lacey said in a statement.
Detectives are looking into whether Vaultz may be linked to other murders across California.
If convicted as charged, he could be eligible for the death penalty. He is expected to be arraigned Monday at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown L.A.