Man, 70, charged over murder of schoolgirl who went missing 40 years ago

US News

A Nevada sex offender has been charged over the murder of a five-year-old girl who vanished on her way to school 40 years ago.

Robert John Lanoue, 70, was arrested last week over the killing of Anne Pham after a DNA breakthrough.

Anne disappeared while walking to her kindergarten class in Seaside, California, on 21 January, 1982.

Her body was found two days later in the former Fort Ord.

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Authorities said the Highland Elementary School pupil had been kidnapped, sexually assaulted and strangled.

The initial investigation did not result in any arrests, and the case went cold.

In 2020, a cold case task force from the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office collaborated with local police to reopen the case.

A new type of DNA testing – not previously available to earlier investigators – led Monterey County District Attorney’s Office to identify Lanoue, who is a registered sex offender in Nevada, as a suspect.

Lanoue was 29 at the time of the homicide and lived near Anne’s home in Seaside, the Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni said.

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He has been charged with one count of first-degree murder, with special circumstance allegations that he murdered Anne while committing kidnapping and a lewd act on a child under the age of 14.

He is currently being held in custody in the state of Nevada pending his extradition to California.

It was not immediately known if Lanoue has a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.

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