Fremont Police Dept. Detective Jacob Blass, who specializes in cold cases, said DNA testing at two labs, one in San Leandro and the other in Richmond, led them to suspect Clifton Hudspeth, who was 31 at the time and who died of a medical condition in 1999.
Hudspeth lived in Milpitas near the victims. Police said he was a disabled former employee of a fiberglass company in San Jose.
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Detective Blass said it's possible Hudspeth may be involved in other unsolved crimes in San Diego and in Hudspeth's home state of Arkansas.
Advanced #DNA testing helps @FremontPD to solve 37-year-old cold case murders of two teenagers. Suspect may be linked to other cases. The latest at 4 & 5pm @abc7newsbayarea https://t.co/gN5w2fOldz pic.twitter.com/SbdJzaSmOY— David Louie (@abc7david) December 17, 2019
The two teenagers were last seen walking north on N. Abel St. in Milpitas after stopping at a convenience store. Atup worked at the Serra Theatres in Milpitas. His cousin Mary Jane had linked up with him at the theater for his shift to end.
Atup's body was found at what was a rural area near the intersection of Green Valley and Scott Creek roads in Fremont, while Malatag's body was found near the intersection of Hunter Road and Mission Blvd. Police said that suspect Hudspeth lived nearby.
Police said the families of the two victims are dealing with the emotions of re-living the 1982 double homicides. The families have asked for privacy.
However, as a result of the DNA testing, Detective Blass speculates that there could be other victims. He said that Malatag had been sexually assaulted. With the connection made to Hudspeth and the release of his photo, he is hopeful that other potential sexual assault victims might step forward.
Hudspeth's body was exhumed under court order to obtain the DNA samples that ultimately linked him to the cousins' murders.
This is the third cold case that Detective Blass has solved in 16 months. He estimates 250 hours were spent doing lab analysis and the equivalent of one and a half years to solve this case.
See more stories about cold cases here.