Kenneth Nevada Williams identified as California cold case victim, police searching for killer

Known as "John Doe 1978," the teen's remains were found in Long Beach 44 years ago

The victim of a 44-year-old California cold case was identified this week, and now police turn their attention to pinning down the killer.

Kenneth Nevada Williams, who was known for decades as "John Doe 1978," was a 15-year-old runaway from La Puente, California, who was found dead in Long Beach on June 3, 1978. 

"A teenager who was murdered in the 1970s has been known only as ‘John Doe’ for decades until recent technology and dogged investigators led to his true identity," Donald Alway, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office, said in a statement.

"Justice delayed doesn't have to be justice denied in this case. Kenneth Nevada Williams is now a known victim and identifying his killer is the next step in solving this case."

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Kenneth Nevada Williams was identified as the teenager whose remains were found in Long Beach, California, on June 3, 1978.

Kenneth Nevada Williams was identified as the teenager whose remains were found in Long Beach, California, on June 3, 1978. (Long Beach Police Department)

Police notified Williams' family and are continuing to investigate the homicide that frustrated generations of Long Beach police homicide detectives. 

Police said the "person(s) responsible for his murder are still outstanding" and asked the public for help.

"Kenneth Williams and his family will get the justice they have long deserved," police said in a press release.

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For decades, circumstantial evidence linked Williams' murder with convicted serial killer Randy Kraft, but Kraft was ultimately ruled out as a suspect, according to police.

Kenneth Nevada Williams' photo in the 1977 Sierra Vista Middle School yearbook.

Kenneth Nevada Williams' photo in the 1977 Sierra Vista Middle School yearbook. (Long Beach Police Department)

The Hacienda La Puente Unified School District Police provided police with school records that showed Williams last attended Sierra Vista Middle School in 1977 and was enrolled in Fairgrove Academy on Oct.18, 1977. 

His last attended school day was on Oct. 27, 1977. 

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Anyone with information about Williams' murder or his whereabouts from Oct. 27, 1977, to June 3, 1978, is asked to contact the Long Beach Police Department Homicide Detail, Missing Persons Section at 562-570-7246.  

Anonymous tips may be submitted through "LA Crime Stoppers" by calling 800-222-TIPS (8477) or downloading the "P3 Tips" app to your smartphone (available at the Apple app store or Google Play), or by visiting www.lacrimestoppers.org.