More than four decades after a 79-year-old Anaheim woman was sexually assaulted and killed in her home, police have identified and arrested a suspect in her killing, officials announced Friday.
On Feb. 18, 1980, a neighbor found Viola Hagenkord dead in her apartment in the 2500 block of Winston Road. The woman was well known throughout her apartment complex and neighbors were concerned when she wasn’t heard from for two days, the Anaheim Police Department said in a news release.
Police were called to the scene, where they “collected valuable evidence” but weren’t able to find her killer, police said. As time went by, the case went cold.
Over the years, different detectives looked into the case, with no luck.
Then in September 2020, cold case homicide detectives investigating Hagenkord’s murder with help from an FBI task force managed to identify a suspect: 64-year-old Andre William Lepere of Alamogordo, New Mexico.
He became a suspect after detectives found a DNA match to evidence collected from the crime scene via genetic genealogy, the same way the Golden State Killer was identified, Anaheim police Sgt. Shane Carringer told KTLA.
Months later, on Wednesday, Anaheim detectives traveled to New Mexico, where with help from local authorities, they found and arrested Lepere on suspicion of killing Hagenkord.
New Mexico State Police booked Lepere into a local detention center, where he’s being held without bail as he awaits extradition to California.
Meanwhile, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has charged Lepere with murder, according to police.
Officials have not disclosed what evidence helped identify Lepere as a suspect and no further details were immediately available.