CROCKETT (CBS SF) — An inmate serving time for sexual assault charges in a Southern California prison has been charged with the 1996 cold case murder of Priscilla Lewis, whose body was found in the restroom of the Crockett restaurant where she worked as a waitress.
The Contra Costa County Sheriff Department announced Thursday that 51-year-old Danny Lamont Hamilton was being held on murder charges with four special enhancements — murder by lying in wait, felony murder kidnapping, felony murder burglary and felony murder during an attempted rape.
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Investigators said that on September 24, 1996, Lewis — a 21-year-old resident of Vallejo — was working as a waitress at the Four Corners restaurant located at 628 2nd Avenue in Crockett.
The cook at the restaurant called 911 shortly before 10:30 p.m. after finding her body in the basement bathroom. The cause of death was asphyxia due to drowning.
Since that time, sheriff detectives have continued the investigation interviewing dozens of people while the crime lab analyzed numerous pieces of evidence. Several search warrants were also served. Despite persistent investigation for over two decades, the case remained unsolved.
In 2020, detectives submitted additional evidence to the crime lab to be tested using current technology. A DNA match came back to that of Hamilton.READ MORE: UPDATE: Police Shoot, Kill Armed Suspect Outside International Terminal at SFO
He was incarcerated at the Martinez Detention Facility from 1999-2002 for unrelated sexual assault charges. He was later convicted of those charges and sentenced to prison for 295 years.
Hamilton is currently serving his term at a state prison near San Diego.
“I would like to recognize the many sheriff’s office homicide detectives and crime lab staff for their dedication and relentless work in the murder of Priscilla Lewis in 1996,” said Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston in a news release. “We continue to investigate unsolved homicides in an effort to provide families, like that of Priscilla Lewis, with answers and some closure and to hold suspects accountable.”
Homicide detectives were continuing to investigate the case.MORE NEWS: Oakland Police Arrest Four in Separate Weapons and Drug Busts
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office Investigation Division at (925) 313-2600 or through Sheriff’s Office dispatch at (925) 646-2441. For any tips, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (866) 846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.