SANTA ANA, Calif. – Prosecutors agreed Wednesday to review a decades-old murder investigation after an attorney said she detected similarities to attacks by a notorious California serial killer and not the man who was convicted in the case.
The Orange County District Attorney's office agreed to review the conviction of William Evins in the killing of a 28-year-old woman in 1979 as part of a longstanding program that looks into old cases upon request. But the prosecutor's office said it's too soon to tell where the review will lead, and they will have to look at the evidence to determine whether DNA testing is a possibility.
Attorney Annee Della Donna, who runs the pro bono Innocence Rights of Orange County, said she made the request after detecting apparent similarities in the now-deceased Evins' case with murders by the so-called Golden State Killer.
Authorities in Northern California arrested 72-year-old former police officer Joseph DeAngelo last April and said they believed he was the killer who had long proved elusive to authorities. DeAngelo is charged with 12 killings throughout the state in the 1970s and 1980s, including one in Orange County in 1980. He has yet to enter a plea.
As a teen, Della Donna said she was the victim of an abduction attempt and years later saw a sketch of the Golden State Killer suspect that she thought resembled her attacker. She started looking into rape and murder cases that had occurred nearby and came across Evins' case, she said.
She said she lived six blocks away from 28-year-old victim Joan Anderson and the way Anderson was killed bears similarities to cases involving the serial killer. She also said Evins, who died in 2013, pleaded guilty after a jailhouse informant said he had confessed to the crime.
"We believe that this murder was another Golden State Killer case," she told reporters, adding that she had also contacted Sacramento County sheriff's officials and the FBI.
"It's too early to tell if there's similarities or not," said Susan Kang Schroeder, the prosecutor office's chief of staff. "We don't know."