VACAVILLE (CBS SF) – A suspect has been arrested in the 34-year-old murder case of a Vacaville teen who disappeared after attending a neighborhood party in 1982.
The Vacaville Police Department announced at a press conference Wednesday morning the arrest of 51-year-old Marvin Ray Markle for the murder of De Anna Lynn Johnson, who was 14 at the time of her disappearance.
Johnson’s mother, Ginger Dimpel, joined police at the news conference and addressed reporters as she fought back tears. “She was taken 34 years ago by the hand of a vicious, cowardly murderer,” said Dimpel.
The Vacaville teenager attended a house party in 1982 just a few houses from her family home on the night she disappeared.
When Johnson failed to return home that night, a search was launched and her body was discovered next to the railroad tracks along Elmira Road.
She had been beaten and strangled.
Partygoers were invited including fellow Vacaville teen Markle, who was established as a suspect in Johnson’s murder early in the investigation, but the case went cold for decades, police said.
Police learned in 2004 that Markle was the primary suspect in the shooting murder of Shirley Ann Pratt, 41, in the Oroville Wildlife Area in Butte County on Oct. 12, 2001.
Vacaville police and the Butte County Sheriff’s Office collaborated on the two murder investigations over many years until Markle was arrested for the Butte County murder in July 2013.
Vacaville detectives attended Markle’s murder trial in Butte County, and witness testimony advanced their investigation of Johnson’s death, police said. Markle was convicted in October 2014 of Pratt’s murder and he was sentenced to 80 years in prison.
This month, the Solano County District Attorney’s Office granted Vacaville police a warrant for Markle’s arrest for Johnson’s murder. Police met with Markle on Tuesday at Kern Valley State Prison and arrested him for Johnson’s murder. Markle was booked into Solano County Jail.
If convicted, Markle’s sentence would be added to the 80-year sentence he is already serving.
Vacaville police Lt. Matt Lydon was the lead investigator in Johnson’s murder and developed a strong relationship with her family over 15 years.
Also at Wednesday’s press conference was Johnson best friend at the time, Mary Borchers, who was wearing Johnson’s favorite color, purple. Borchers said she had a gut feeling it was Markel all these years, never gave up hope her friend’s killer would face justice.
“He can rot in hell,” said Borchers. “I remember at one point he said to me, ‘You will never get me Mary,’ as he was spitting on me. And I said, ‘Count my words, honey. I will get you.'”
In a previous written statement, Johnson’s family thanked police and the community for seeking justice over the past three decades.
“It has been a long hard and emotional struggle to face each day of the 34 years while De Anna’s murderer has walked free and lived life. We miss her very much, relying on the happy memories, and live on knowing that De Anna believed in God because of Rainbows.”
“We believe in God because of De Anna. Her family, friends and the entire community worked tirelessly and never gave up on seeking justice for her; we thank them all for that,” Johnson’s family said.
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