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Stored DNA evidence led to arrest of two men in 1973 slayings of Yuba County girls

Information sought in 34-year-old El Dorado County homicide cold case

The El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office is seeking new information in the 1982 deaths of two South Lake Tahoe casino employees whose bodies were found in the south fork of the American River several months after they disappeared from their
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The El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office is seeking new information in the 1982 deaths of two South Lake Tahoe casino employees whose bodies were found in the south fork of the American River several months after they disappeared from their

Two men were arrested Tuesday in the shooting deaths 43 years ago of two Yuba County girls.

William Lloyd Harbour, 65, of Olivehurst was arrested about 10:35 a.m. during a traffic stop in Linda. Larry Don Patterson, also 65, was apprehended Tuesday morning in Oakhurst, Okla., according to the Yuba County Sheriff’s Office.

The two men are accused of the November 1973 slayings of 12-year-old Valerie Janice Lane and 13-year-old Doris Karen Derryberry, both of Olivehurst.

The girls’ mothers reported them missing as runaways at midmorning on Nov. 12, 1973, according to a Yuba County Sheriff’s Office news release. The girls were good friends and had been together the day before, a Sunday, when they left Derryberry’s home around noon to go shopping at the mall in Linda. The girls were seen together around town several times that afternoon, and were last sighted between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Olivehurst Avenue near Seventh Avenue, sheriff’s officials said.

When neither of the girls had returned home by the following morning, they were reported missing.

A few hours later, about 1:30 p.m., the girls were found dead alongside a dirt road near Camp Far West Lake outside of Wheatland. Both had been killed by shotgun blasts at close range. Evidence indicated that Derryberry also has been sexually assaulted.

Sheriff’s officials said the homicide was actively investigated from 1973 through 1976. Despite significant investigative efforts, including more than 60 interviews, they produced no successful leads and the case remained unsolved.

Sheriff Steven Durfor said detectives periodically looked at the case over the years. Around March 2014, evidence technician Diane Tubandt and Detective Karen Howard, who was assisting in the evidence unit while on modified duty, reviewed the case for any evidence that could be developed using techniques and processes that were not available in 1973. Items of evidence – including semen – collected during the original investigation were reviewed and submitted to the California Department of Justice Forensic Labs for analysis.

In December 2014, testing by the Justice Department revealed DNA evidence that matched and identified Patterson and Harbour as suspects.

Both men have a history of felony convictions that resulted in prison sentences, and as a result their DNA is in a national database, Durfor said. Harbour had a 1997 felony drug conviction in San Joaquin County and a 2003 conviction for drug offenses in Sutter County. Patterson was convicted and sentenced to prison in 1980 for raping two females in Chico in 1976. After release from prison, he was convicted of failing to register as a sex offender.

The case was reopened and after more than a year of renewed and expanded investigation, Yuba County detectives presented the case to the Yuba County District Attorney’s Office, leading to the issuance of arrest warrants for Patterson and Harbour.

Durfor said he and Yuba County District Attorney Patrick McGrath met with members of girls’ families Tuesday morning to inform them of the arrests in the case. He said Lane’s mother is still alive, and other members of both families still live in the area. The families had previously been notified that the case had been reopened, Durfor said.

Harbour, who was 22 at the time of the slayings, lives on Sixth Avenue in Olivehurst. Patterson, who also was 22, lived on Charlotte Court in Olivehurst in 1973.

Olivehurst in 1973 was a very small community, Durfor said. The victims and suspects lived in the same general area and their families were familiar with each other.

Patterson was located and apprehended with the assistance of several agencies in Oklahoma, including the U.S. Marshals, Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, Creek County Sheriff’s Office and the Broken Arrow Police Department.

Durfor said Harbour likely would be arraigned Wednesday in Yuba Superior Court. Patterson remains in Oklahoma pending an extradition hearing. Durfor said he did not know how long the extradition process would take.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy

The El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office is seeking new information in the 1982 deaths of two South Lake Tahoe casino employees whose bodies were found in the south fork of the American River several months after they disappeared from their

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