40 Years Later, Nevada Man Is Charged With Murdering a 5-Year-Old Girl


On a wet Thursday in January 1982, Anne Pham was preparing for kindergarten at her household’s house in Seaside, Calif. Having developed an unbiased streak as certainly one of 10 siblings, the 5-year-old efficiently pleaded along with her mom and an older brother to let her stroll the 2 blocks to high school by herself.

However no one at a busy grocery retailer alongside her route noticed Anne. No one noticed her in school, both.

Not till dinnertime did her giant household discover her absence. For 2 days, there was no signal of her. Then, in some bushes by a street lower than two miles away, her physique was found by chance. She had been sodomized and smothered to loss of life.

The Seaside Police Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation by no means developed a suspect or perhaps a lead — till this yr.

With a current resolve to look at unsolved circumstances, a mysterious strand of hair and the assistance of genetic family tree — which has been used to crack unsolved circumstances throughout the nation in recent times — the authorities in Monterey County had been in a position to determine Robert J. Lanoue, 70, of Reno, Nev., as a suspect and cost him with first-degree homicide in Anne’s killing.

Credit score…Washoe County Sheriff’s Workplace, through Related Press

He’s presently being held in Nevada pending extradition to California, mentioned Jeannine P. Pacioni, the Monterey County district legal professional.

Mr. Lanoue was 29 on the time of the Jan. 21, 1982, homicide and lived only one block away. He was a workers sergeant at Fort Ord, then an Military base close to Seaside.

In 1998, Mr. Lanoue was convicted of possessing and producing baby pornography and committing a lewd act with a baby below 16 in Nevada, the place he’s a registered intercourse offender. He spent about 20 years in jail, Nick Borges, the chief of the Seaside Police Division, mentioned in an interview.

Public information didn’t listing a lawyer for Mr. Lanoue and Matthew L’Heureux, a deputy district legal professional in Monterey County, mentioned he didn’t know whether or not Mr. Lanoue had a lawyer.

Chief Borges mentioned that he was not conscious of prior felony accusations in opposition to Mr. Lanoue however added that he was “extremely involved.”

“I don’t suppose you get up someday and suppose, ‘I’m going to kill a baby, I’m going to rape a baby, after which I’m going to maneuver on and be an exquisite citizen,’” Chief Borges mentioned.

Anne’s household, like so many others, had fled Vietnam by boat within the aftermath of the battle and wound up in the US, Chief Borges mentioned.

“It was paradise in comparison with what this household had seen within the Vietnam Warfare,” Chief Borges mentioned of their impression of the U.S. “They by no means thought coming right here, to this paradise, could be the explanation their daughter would move.”

In line with a 1982 article in The Monterey Peninsula Herald, Anne was the primary member of her household to be born within the U.S., in 1976. She was named after a church that sponsored the household, St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Beaumont, Texas. Anne dressed herself and combed her personal hair each morning and appreciated going to high school, The Herald mentioned.

Chief Borges got here throughout the chilly case in 2009 whereas going via a field full of materials from a number of unsolved circumstances. He was “disgusted” by the situation of the proof in Anne’s case and vowed to do one thing about it, he mentioned.

Two years in the past, a detective wanting into chilly circumstances for the district legal professional requested him about circumstances that had been “extraordinarily advanced and delicate,” Chief Borges recalled. “With out hesitation, I mentioned, ‘Annie Pham.’”

The case was damaged open due to a single piece of proof left over from the unique investigation — a centimeter-long rootless hair. It was unclear initially whether or not the hair belonged to a male or feminine.

Kelly Harkins, the chief government of Astrea Forensics, mentioned in an interview that her lab was in a position to extract DNA from the hair and sequence it. CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogist, mentioned that she was then in a position to set up a “genetic community” wherein the identical uncommon surname stored recurring — Lanoue.

“We acquired lucky on this case that the important thing surname recognized via the genetic community that I used to be in a position to create ended up being the surname of the suspect,” she mentioned. A detective found that Robert Lanoue had been a neighbor of Anne’s, and additional investigation revealed him to be supply of the hair, Chief Borges mentioned, although he declined to specify how precisely the authorities had decided that.

In March, Chief Borges ordered a big cardboard cutout of Anne, which he put in within the foyer of his workplace.

On Thursday, the day the costs had been introduced, Chief Borges referred to as his group and mentioned, “We’re going to take Annie to high school at present.”

He fastidiously match his image into his automotive, not wanting to place it within the trunk, since he mentioned that’s the place Anne doubtless was when she was killed. He and a bunch of detectives drove to Highland Elementary Faculty, Anne’s old fashioned.

“She didn’t make it to high school that day,’’ Chief Borges mentioned, “however the day this case was filed, the day a suspect was arrested, she did.”

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