Yuma Sun

YPD notes new leads in 1980s homicide

Department lists accomplish­ments in budget report

- BY JAMES GILBERT @YSJAMESGIL­BERT

The case might be old, but that doesn’t mean the Yuma Police Department has given up on it.

In the annual budget report to the Yuma City Council, YPD listed its accomplish­ments for the last fiscal year, and noted it had developed new leads in a 1980s cold case homicide. Cold cases refer to crimes that have gone unsolved for years and have no active leads that detectives can pursue.

However, according to Sgt. Lori Franklin, YPD is not yet releasing informatio­n about the case.

“We do have a case from the 1980s in which evidence was sent off to be tested and has come back with a new lead,” Franklin said. “We are not letting that informatio­n out yet because detectives are still actively investigat­ing the case.”

YPD currently has 14 unsolved murders dating back to 1969 posted on its website. Six of 14 cold case homicides posted on YPD’s website date back to the 1980s, including the murder of a Catholic priest from California.

On Nov. 10, 1982, at about 2:15 p.m., Yuma police officers were dispatched to the El Rancho Motel, 2201 S. 4th Ave. Upon arrival, officers found Father Benjamin Carrier in a bed in one of the rooms with his hands tied behind his back with black electrical tape. He had been strangled. Witnesses reported that Carrier picked up two hitchhiker­s on his way through town.

One witness said she saw Carrier with two young men at the pool the day before. They fit the descriptio­n of the suspects. The motel manager said when Carrier checked into the motel, a man approximat­ely 20 to 25 years of age with light facial hair was in Carrier’s truck.

The suspects were described as two white men, 20s to early 30s, both about 5 feet 6 inches, average build. One may have had light facial hair and one

had medium length, brown hair and light skin. One of the suspects has a tattoo on the under side of his left forearm.

A witness described one of the suspects with a cane decorated with a skull on the top and a slight Southern accent. Carrier paid for two people to stay the night. Police found Carrier’s vehicle three days later in Las Vegas.

Other cold case homicides from the 1980s include:

• On March 14, 1983, at around 7:42 p.m., Richard Perry and Russell White were found in the area of the old water tanks north of 1st Street and 1st Avenue. Both had died from multiple stab wounds. A suspect in the case is described as a white male, 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall, heavy set with brown eyes. At the time, he was about 30 to 35 years old.

• On April 16, 1984, at around 1:30 p.m., Yuma police officers were dispatched to 2103 S. 11th Ave., and found Evelyn Halsey deceased in the residence. The cause of death was determined to be from a broken back. Evidence indicates Halsey was dragged into the house from the driveway and was possibly deceased prior to that.

• On Nov. 23, 1984, at around 1 a.m., Yuma police officers were advised that Billy Duncan had been shot in a residence in the 400 block of S. 10th Avenue. Police found Duncan dead from a gunshot wound. The suspect was described as a Hispanic male who goes by the name “Mingo.” At the time of this incident, he was described as 6 feet to 6 feet, 3 inches tall, weighing 210 pounds, with black hair, and medium complexion with a muscular build.

• On Feb. 19, 1985, at around 5:30 p.m. a deceased person was reported in the area of 160 E. 1st St. Responding officers found the body of Thomas Gonzales, who had died from a knife wound to the chest.

• On Nov. 8, 1988, at around 3:30 a.m., YPD responded

to 968 S. 1st Ave. in reference to a possible suicide. Upon arrival, officers discovered the body of William Higgins, who had been shot. At about 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 7th, a loud ‘bang’ was heard and two males were seen leaving the residence shortly thereafter. One was a black male wearing a dark-colored hat, who left the area in a red car with a white top. The other male was seen walking away. There is no given descriptio­n of the second male.

Franklin said YPD does not have a cold case unit, but that doesn’t mean that these unsolved murders aren’t being investigat­ed. She explained that often, detectives will re-examine cold cases to try and find any details that had not been brought out before.

Also, sometimes after a detective or officer retires, they stay on as reserve officers to investigat­e cold cases by looking at the items in evidence for things such as blood and DNA that can be tested by new technology

that was not available at the time.

YPD has had success in solving cold cases such as the 2005 La Mesa murders which had gone cold for nine years before Preston Strong was convicted of the murders and sentenced to the death penalty.

There was also the 1997 case of Kenneth Cloud, a 55-year-old Bard farmer who was shot to death in the parking lot of the Burgers and Beer restaurant. Cloud’s murder remained a cold case until 2003, when police arrested his wife,

Lois Kay Cloud, Vincent Accardo and his wife, Lisa Baker, in the slaying.

YPD also solved the 1985 murder of Jimmie Ferrara, who had bit parts in Hollywood movies during the 1940s. He had just returned from vacationin­g in Nevada the night he was killed. The crime was unsolved for nearly 22 years before police made arrests in the case in 2006.

James Gilbert can be reached at jgilbert@yumasun.com or 5396854. Find him on Facebook at www. Facebook.com/YSJamesGil­bert.

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