Arrest made in 1979 Oakland cold case

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An arrest was finally made in the rape and murder of a woman in Oakland in 1979. (KGO-TV )

A Bay Area woman finally has some closure.

Her mother, Betty Jean Elias, was raped and murdered in her Oakland apartment in 1979. But thanks to the daughter's persistence suspect is now awaiting trial.

Joanne Paletta was 22-years-old and living in San Diego when she got word her mother, Elias, had been murdered.

"It was hard to lose her. It was really hard to lose her," Paletta said.

The crime scene, her mother's apartment on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland looks much different now than it did back then in October of 1979.

"My mother was tortured. She had a slow death. She fought, she fought like hell. She had no fingernails left," Paletta said.

She was raped and stabbed and strangled. There were no leads. No suspects. The case went cold. But Paletta never gave up her search for answers and she kept pressure on investigators.

"In my heart, I knew he was out there. Something inside me said, he's out there, go get him," Paletta said.

A few years ago, Oakland police were finally able to have DNA from the crime scene tested and they got a match.

"It was so surreal," Paletta said.

Dennis Ray Eagle was serving time for a sex crime in another state. He was brought back to the Bay Area where he was charged with murder. He is being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. Joanne says her mother would be proud of her.

"I know she's smiling down on me. Good girl. Good girl Joanne. Thank you," Paletta said.

Dennis Ray Eagle is next scheduled to be in court May 31. Paletta says she'll be there. She says she'll be there for every court appearance and every day of the trial.
Related Topics:
newscrimecold caserapemurdertrialinvestigationOakland
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