MAN LINKED TO 1975 SANTA MONICA AND 1983 LAGUNA BEACH MURDERS AFTER DNA MATCH SCHEDULED TO BE ARRAIGNED TOMORROW

OCDASeal

Orange County District Attorney
Press Release


Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701

For Immediate Release
June 21, 2006
Contact:Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
(714) 347-8408 Office
(714) 292-2718 Cell

NEWPORT BEACH –   A Pasadena man who was linked to two murders through DNA is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow, June 20, 2006 at 8:30 a.m. in H2, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.  John Whitaker Betances, 57, was charged with two counts of murder for killing two women in 1975 (Santa Monica) and 1983 (Laguna Beach).  Betances was arrested in Oregon and extradited to Orange County to face murder charges.  If convicted, Betances faces a prison sentence of life without parole.

In 1975 the body of Bodil Rasmussen, 36, was found strangled and dumped in a Santa Monica parking lot.  Betances lived in her apartment complex at the time and was a suspect in her murder, but there was insufficient evidence to charge him with murder at that time.  Santa Monica Police Department left the case open for investigation and preserved evidence for the next thirty years.

In 1983 Patricia Carpenter, 26, was found murdered in an industrial parking lot in Laguna Canyon.  She had also been strangled.  Laguna Beach Police Department was also unable to identify a suspect, but they did obtain a DNA sample from under Carpenter’s fingernails.  Technology at the time was not advanced enough for DNA testing.

On May 3, 2004, the defendant was linked to both crimes through DNA testing.   A DNA sample under Carpenter’s fingernails and a semen sample found on Rasmussen led to the arrest of Betances.  The Orange County District Attorney with the cooperation of the Los Angeles District Attorney will be prosecuting both cases.  Certain sex crimes and murders may be tried in another county based on the evidence.

“The Santa Monica and Laguna Beach Police Departments should be commended for having the forethought to preserve the evidence and never giving up on getting justice for two young women whose life was cut tragically short,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy of the Homicide Unit, who is prosecuting this case. “Technology will continue to make getting away with these types of crime more difficult.”

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