MAN TO FACE TRIAL FOR 1974 COLD CASE STRANGLING MURDER OF 30-YEAR-OLD FEMALE STRANGER IN HER APARTMENT

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man is scheduled to face trial on Monday for the 1974 cold case murder of a 30-year-old female stranger in her La Palma apartment.

Defendant Felony Charges Maximum Sentence Court Date
Larry Clark Stephens, 68, Santa Rosa Charged on June 2, 2015, with:

  • One felony count of murder

Life in state prison Jury trial opening statements

Feb. 26, 2018, 8:30 a.m.

Department C-30, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Circumstances of the Case

  • On Dec. 11, 1974, 30-year-old Patricia Ross was alone in her apartment in La Palma.
  • After completing errands for her business, she returned home to get ready for a double date she was planning on attending later that evening. She was supposed to meet her date and another couple at the couple’s home in Huntington Beach that evening.
  • The defendant and Ross did not know each other prior to the crime.
  • Stephens, then 24 years old, is accused of entering Ross’ apartment and strangling the victim in her bedroom.
  • The victim’s friend went to her apartment after she had not shown up and found Ross naked in her bedroom with her body lying face down.
  • The friend contacted the La Palma Police Department (LPPD), who investigated this case and also discovered the victim’s small dog, unharmed, inside of a drawer in her bedroom. Forensic evidence, including blood, was collected at the scene.
  • In 2008, LPPD began a joint investigation with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) and Orange County Cold Case Homicide Task Force (OCHTF).
  • In March 2015, Stephens was arrested on charges of domestic violence in Santa Rosa and submitted a DNA sample.
  • The DNA sample the defendant provided for the Santa Rosa Police Department matched the DNA profile collected from the murder scene 40 years prior.

Formed in 2014, the OCHTF is a law enforcement collaboration aimed at investigating and solving cold case homicides in Orange County. Task force members include the Anaheim Police Department, Fullerton Police Department, Garden Grove Police Department, Huntington Beach Police Department, OCDA, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and Santa Ana Police Department.

Prosecutor: Senior Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker, Homicide Unit

*The defendant was arrested 40 years after the crime when identified through DNA

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 15NF1464 / February 23, 2018

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