Vacaville police arrest suspect in 1982 cold case murder of teen

Bay City News
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Vacaville Police Chief- ohn Carli speaks at news conference on cold case murder, Wednesday, January 25, 2017.
Vacaville Police Chief- ohn Carli speaks at news conference on cold case murder, Wednesday, January 25, 2017.

VACAVILLE, Calif. -- Vacaville police said today a man who was convicted of a Butte County homicide was arrested Tuesday for the murder of a 14-year-old girl in Vacaville 34 years ago.

Police said Marvin Ray Markle, 51, is suspected of the bludgeoning murder of De Anna Lynn Johnson on Nov. 15, 1982. A Southern Pacific Railroad employee who was riding a train adjacent to Elmira Road near Royal Oaks Drive discovered her body the next day, police said.

Johnson, a ninth-grade student at Will C. Wood Junior High School at the time, attended a party at a residence on Royal Oaks Drive on Nov. 15 but never returned home.

Markle, 17 at the time, was established as a suspect in Johnson's murder early in the investigation, but the case went cold for decades, police said.

Police learned in 2004 that Markle was the primary suspect in the shooting murder of Shirley Ann Pratt, 41, in the Oroville Wildlife Area in Butte County on Oct. 12, 2001.

Vacaville police and the Butte County Sheriff's Office collaborated on the two murder investigations over many years until Markle was arrested for the Butte County murder in July 2013, police said.

Vacaville police detectives attended Markle's murder trial in Butte County, and witness testimony advanced their investigation of Johnson's death, police said. Markle was convicted in October 2014 of Pratt's murder and he was sentenced to 80 years in prison.

This month, the Solano County District Attorney's Office granted Vacaville police a warrant for Markle's arrest for Johnson's murder. Police met with Markle on Tuesday at Kern Valley State Prison and arrested him for Johnson's murder. Markle was booked into Solano County Jail.

Vacaville police Lt. Matt Lydon was the lead investigator in Johnson's murder and developed a strong relationship with her family over 15 years, Lt. Mark Donaldson said today.

In a written statement today, Johnson's family thanked police and the community for seeking justice over the past three decades.

"It has been a long hard and emotional struggle to face each day of the 34 years while De Anna's murderer has walked free and lived life. We miss her very much, relying on the happy memories, and live on knowing that De Anna believed in God because of Rainbows."

"We believe in God because of De Anna. Her family, friends and the entire community worked tirelessly and never gave up on seeking justice for her; we thank them all for that," Johnson's family said.