Orange County

Man Arrested in 1976 Murder of Woman Who Vanished From Orange County Restaurant

Investigators chalked up advances in DNA technology to the arrest

A 66-year-old former Marine accused of killing a woman in Orange County 43 years ago faces an extradition hearing Friday in Louisiana.

Eddie Lee Anderson, jailed in Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana, is accused of killing 30-year-old Leslie Penrod Harris in May 1976, according to Carrie Braun of the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Anderson was arrested at his home in River Ridge, Louisiana, on Friday.

Investigators chalked up advances in DNA technology to the arrest. Harris was dining with her husband at a Costa Mesa restaurant on May 17, 1976, when she got up and left, but then never returned, Braun said. Her husband called police when she didn't return to the restaurant as it closed at 8:30 p.m.

About 4:30 a.m., May 18, 1976, military police at what was then the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro found a body in a roadway near the base, Braun said. Investigators determined it was Harris and that she had been strangled.

Investigators re-examined genetic evidence in 1997, but did not come up with any new leads. In August of last year, investigators started using online genealogy databases to work up a suspect, which has helped authorities make arrests in other cold cases.

At some point this year, Anderson became a suspect. Anderson served at the El Toro base in the early 1970s, and at the time Harris was killed he lived less than a mile from the restaurant where the victim dined with her husband before she went missing, Braun said.

Investigators went to New Orleans on Thursday to question Anderson, who provided them with a DNA sample, prompting his arrest on suspicion of murder, Braun said.

Authorities did not say what relationship, if any, Anderson had with the victim, and no possible motive was released.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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