Prosecutors have charged a man with murder and rape in the killings of two women during the 1980s, after using investigative genetic genealogy to solve the crimes, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a news release Friday.
The charges filed Friday are the first in L.A. County to use the forensic technology, authorities said.
“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,” District Attorney Lacey said.
Horace Van Vaultz Jr., 64, was charged with two counts of murder, with special circumstance allegations of multiple murders, crimes committed during a rape and sodomy, and with lying in wait for each victim, the news release said.
Van Vaultz is accused of murdering Mary Duggan, 22, on June 9, 1986. Duggan’s body was found in the trunk of a car in a Burbank parking lot, authorities said. She was bound, sexually assaulted and died from asphyxia because a tissue was stuffed down her throat, according to the release.
The second murder charge is for the killing of Selena Keough, 20, on July 16, 1981. Keough was found under some bushes in Montclair in San Bernardino County. She was also bound, sexually assaulted and strangled, authorities said.
Van Vaultz faces the death penalty or life in prison with the possibility of parole if convicted of the charges, the DA’s office said.
His arraignment is expected to take place on Monday.
Investigators have reached out to other law enforcement agencies to determine if Van Vaultz is responsible for other unsolved murders in the state, the release said.
“With dedicated resources and rapidly advancing technology, we can unmask the cowardly murderers who have remained hidden in our community and bring justice to the grief-stricken families who have waited too long for answers,” Lacey said in the release.
The case remains under investigation by the Burbank and Montclair police departments and the FBI’s Forensic Genetic Genealogy Team, authorities said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Burbank Police Department tip line at 818-238-3086.