Date: June 2, 2015
MAN CHARGED FOR 1974 COLD CASE STRANGLING MURDER OF 30-YEAR-OLD WOMAN IN HER APARTMENT
SANTA ANA – A man was charged today for the 1974 cold case murder of a 30-year-old woman in her apartment. Larry Stephens, 65, Santa Rosa, is charged with one felony count of murder. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison. The People will be requesting Stephens be held on $1 million bail at his arraignment. The date, time, and location of the arraignment are to be determined.
On Dec. 11, 1974, 30-year-old Patricia Ross lived alone in an apartment in La Palma. After completing errands for her business, she told a friend that she had to return home to get ready for a date that she was planning on meeting later that evening. She was supposed to meet her date and another couple at the couple’s home in Huntington Beach that evening.
The defendant and Ross did not know each other prior to the crime. That day, Stephens, then 24 years old, is accused of entering Ross’ apartment and strangling the victim in her bedroom.
Ross’ friend’s date went to her apartment after she had not shown up and found the victim naked in her bedroom with her body lying face down. The victim’s date contacted the La Palma Police Department (LPPD), who investigated this case and also discovered the victim’s small dog, unharmed, inside of a drawer in her bedroom.
In 2008, LPPD began reinvestigating this case and conducted a joint investigation with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) and Orange County Cold Case Homicide Task Force (OCHTF). In March 2015, Stephens was arrested on charges of domestic violence in Santa Rosa and submitted a DNA sample. The DNA sample the defendant provided for the Santa Rosa Police Department matched the DNA profile collected from the murder scene. The defendant is currently awaiting to be transported back to Orange County in the Sonoma County Jail.
Formed in 2014, the OCHTF is a law enforcement collaboration aimed at investigating and solving cold case homicides in Orange County. Task force members include the Anaheim Police Department, Fullerton Police Department, Huntington Beach Police Department, OCDA, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and Santa Ana Police Department.
“The La Palma Police Department is grateful for everyone associated in investigating this brutal murder over the 41 years that it went unsolved, and hope that this arrest and successful prosecution will bring some closure for Patricia Anne Ross’ surviving family and friends. May “Annie” finally rest in peace,” said LPPD Police Chief Eric Nunez.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.