SUNNYVALE (CBS SF) — Former Sunnyvale resident Thomas Hinnard has been arrested for the 1979 cold case murder of Lakewood Lounge owner Keith Judd after the discovery of fingerprint evidence that had been misplaced for many years, police announced Friday.
“That’s why we’re all in this job — to defend the defenseless and to solve these crimes for these families,” says Capt. Craig Anderson with the Sunnyvale Public Safety Department.READ MORE: Bay Area Health Workers Cheer Newly-Approved 1-Shot Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
Judd, a 45-year-old husband and father of two, arose early the morning of July 19, 1979 to travel to his bar to clean up and account for transactions from the night before.
“Someone came into the bar and violently attacked him and robbed him,” says Capt. Anderson.
At around 5:30 a.m. another employee arrived and found Judd lying in a pool of blood. He was transported to a local hospital where he died of his injuries.
Several fingerprints were found in the area of the lounge where the homicide occurred along with footprints in the victim’s blood. Later that week, detectives believed they had identified the suspect and placed him under arrest.
But under a careful review, the district attorney’s office determined there was insufficient evidence to file murder charges and the suspect was released.
The case went cold for more than 40 years.
In 2018, Sunnyvale Detective Matt Hutchison began a detailed review of the case and was able to locate fingerprint evidence that had been misplaced for many years. Hutchison sent the fingerprints to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office fingerprint identification unit for examination.READ MORE: Antioch Gas Station Shooting Leaves Man Suffering Life-Threatening Injuries
Judd’s family including his son Brian who was 19 at the time of his father’s death says they had largely given up hope of finding answers and justice for the murder.
“To have that vacuum in my life was challenging,” says Judd.
As a result of the examination, Hinnard was identified as having left fingerprints inside the lounge in the specific area where the homicide occurred.
At the time of the murder, Hinnard lived in Sunnyvale and worked at a business located in the same shopping center as the Lakewood Lounge. He also was a patron of the bar.
Hutchison located Hinnard and interviewed him. Investigators determined that Hinnard lied several times and made numerous incriminating statements.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office issued an arrest warrant and on Friday February 12, Hinnard was arrested in Sonora, where he has been living.
“My main regret is that my mother passed two years ago and did not get to know that this was getting looked at again and it had been resolved,” says Judd.
If you have any additional information about this investigation please contact detective Matt Hutchison at 408-730-7100.MORE NEWS: Hundreds Rally in San Mateo to Denounce Violence Against Asian Americans