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Cold Case Arrest Solves 1986 Murder

A 17-year-old girl was brutally attacked and killed. San Mateo County's sophisticated forensic lab and the tenacious work of detectives have finally cracked the case.


A teenage girl was raped, beaten and killed in 1986 — her body dumped off Skyline Boulevard just north of Alpine Road in San Mateo County. For nearly three decades her attacker got away with murder. Then came DNA testing and tenacious investigators determined to solve the case.

Now, her accused killer is behind bars awaiting justice.

John William Kelley, 49, a registered sex offender living in the Sierra foothills town of Placerville, was arrested Wednesday and brought back to San Mateo County. He’s being held in the Maguire Correctional Facility for kidnapping, rape and murder, according to a statement from Lt. Larry Schumaker of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

Kelly is scheduled for arraignment Friday.

The victim was Annette Thur, just 17 years old, who lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains town of Ben Lomond. On Dec. 6, 1986 she attended a party in nearby Boulder Creek. Her body was found the next day. At the time, investigators were told that Thur planned to hitchhike home from the party. After an initial probe, the case went cold.

Earlier this year, evidence from Thur’s murder was re-analyzed by the San Mateo County Forensic Lab. Technicians found Kelly’s DNA. The case was officially re-opened and assigned for further investigation.

On Wednesday, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office detectives traveled to Placerville where they interviewed Kelly about the case. He was arrested, transported to San Mateo County and booked into jail. His photo has not been released.

If you have any information about this crime or the suspect, contact Det. Andy Armando at 650-363-4347 or email aarmando@smcgov.org or Det. Matt Broad at 650-363-4363 or email mbroad@smcgov.org.   You may also contact the Sheriff’s Office Anonymous Witness Line at 800-547-2700.

Bob Cancilla August 17, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Great job by the San Mateo County Forensic Lab personnel and the detectives assigned to further investigate this Cold Case. Keep up the good work for San Mateo County residents.
G-man August 17, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Ok So the guy is guilty until proven innocent. Welcome to US justice system. 22 himself at the time of the crime You KNOW hes gonna claim he met and slept with the girl at the party night prior-then what have the cops got? DNA and no proof he killed anyone. You might this cat him in lies but you wont prove murder to a jury BARD. This arresting suspects before the cops have their ducks in a row with a solid case lets criminals walk everytime. Hes probably clammed up and got a public defender now. Go figure. Stupid DA & cops put these bad guys right back on the street.
Andrew August 17, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Learn how to spell before calling others stupid.
bill August 18, 2012 at 03:39 PM
thanks for the good work she will always be rememberd.
michelle August 18, 2012 at 04:30 PM
So instead of advancing and finding the dna in order to get people like this off the streets and keeping 17 year old girls just a little bit safer, we should just leave it a Cold Case. Right?
FROST CRUZ August 29, 2012 at 01:07 AM
HI IM FROM TEXAS ONE OF YOUR CITYS MOST WANTED LIVES NEXT TO ME HE IS WANTED ON INDECENT EXPOSURE BUUT YOUR STATE DOES NOT WANT TO EXTRADITE HIM ?
Beatrice Karnes August 29, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Frost, Have you contacted the Palo Alto Police Department and the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office? Who is the fugitive?

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