Sacramento’s Oldest Cold Case Has Been Solved Thanks To Advances In DNA

28-year-old Nancy Bennallack was murdered in October of 1970. Over 50 years later, police have identified her killer.

Nancy Bennallack, 28, pictured here smiling, was murdered on Oct. 26, 1970.

28-year-old Nancy Bennallack was murdered in October of 1970. Over 50 years later, police have identified her killer.

Photo by: Sacramento County Sheriff

Sacramento County Sheriff

Nancy Marie Bennallack was only 28 years old when she was murdered on Oct. 26, 1970. She was working as a court reporter when she was brutally stabbed to death in the bedroom of her home in Sacramento, California. She had been stabbed almost three dozen times and had been nearly decapitated.

Bennallack was engaged and planning to get married the following month. Her devastated fiancé, family, and friends spent the next 52 years wondering what happened.

In August 2022, The Sacramento Bee reported that the case was solved by investigators at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office and the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. They used DNA genealogy techniques to identify Richard John Davis as her killer.

Davis was living in the same apartment complex as the victim at the time of her murder. On the night of Oct. 26, 1970, police believe that Davis put tape on his fingertips to avoid leaving fingerprints, then climbed up to Bennallack’s balcony and entered her apartment, reported KCRA. There were defensive wounds on her body that show she tried to fight off the attack.

The fingertip trick did nothing to disguise Davis’s blood, though. He was apparently cut badly in the attack, perhaps while Bennallack fought for her life, and he left a trail of his blood from her apartment to the middle of the parking lot. In 2004, a DNA profile was developed from the blood drops he left behind. When the Sacramento County cold case unit started reexamining the case in 2019, they began a Forensic Genetic Genealogy investigation, reported ABC 10.

During a press conference that was held at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, retired detective Micky Links, who started working on the case back in 2005, announced that it had been solved. Links added that there won’t be any form of legal justice but hoped that it helped bring her family peace to know the case had been solved.

Davis died back in 1997 at the age of 54 from alcoholism, according to The Sacramento Bee, so no criminal charges are being filed.

For more on this case, stream On The Case With Paula Zahn: "Follow the Blood" on discovery+.

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