68-year-old O.C. inmate accused in 1976 killing dies after testing positive for coronavirus

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Leslie Penrod Harris, left, and Eddie Lee Anderson are seen in photos from 1976 released by the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Leslie Penrod Harris, left, and Eddie Lee Anderson are seen in photos from 1976 released by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

A 68-year-old Orange County inmate suspected of killing a woman in 1976 has died after testing positive for the coronavirus, authorities said Friday.

Eddie Lee Anderson, a former U.S. Marine, died at 5 a.m. Friday after first being booked into the Orange County Sheriff’s Department jail on suspicion of homicide on July 1, 2019, according to the agency. He was previously housed at Theo Lacy Facility in Orange.

Anderson was suspected in the May 1976 killing of 30-year-old Leslie Penrod Harris, who was found strangled near Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, according to sheriff’s officials.

According to authorities, Harris was eating at a Costa Mesa restaurant with her husband on the night of May 17 when she went out alone around 8:30 p.m. and never returned. Her husband reported her missing after she never came back to the eatery.

Last year, investigators began using genealogy to identify suspects and they later identified Anderson as a person of interest with the assistance of the FBI.

Anderson tested positive for the virus within the last week and was taken to a hospital on Dec. 13, officials said.

The Sheriff’s Department said he is the first O.C. jail inmate to die from medical complications resulting from COVID-19. A total of 1,260 Orange County inmates have tested positive since the start of the pandemic earlier this year, officials said.

The O.C. District Attorney’s Office will investigate the death. No other details have been released by sheriff’s officials.

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