Families in shock after homicide victims identified in 1980 Southern California cold case

In 2018, Chrissy Salley was ready to figure out what happened to her estranged mother. In 1980, the Virginia resident was taken from her mother’s custody at  2 months old, and even after being adopted by her half-uncle and knowing much of her nuclear family, her mother’s story remained a mystery to them all.

Salley hired a private investigator and began building a paper trail towards some closure on the mystery. In December 2020, Salley’s DNA was matched with the remains of a woman found buried in the desert in one of San Bernardino County’s oldest cold case homicides — and a nightmare result began to unfold that she could have never anticipated.

The DNA hit led to the revelation that Salley’s mother and her boyfriend were, in 1980, two young people who became murder victims in a cross-country hitchhiking effort gone awry. Having finally learned the fate of the pair they hadn’t heard from for more than 40 years, some of their family members today are dealing with shock, pain and even self-blame from the revelations.

In April, Pamela Dianne Duffey and William Everette Lane were confirmed to be the identities of two bodies discovered buried in a remote part of the Mojave Desert in November 1980. Both were allegedly killed and buried near Ludlow and I-40 sometime in mid-1980 by convicted Mississippi murderer Howard Monteville Neal, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department announced April 21. Both were believed to have been about 20 when they died. Efforts to identify them were unsuccessful until Salley’s DNA was found to be a match for her mother.

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The world looked different in 1980. Jimmy Carter was president and Russia was still part of the old Soviet Union. Cell phones, email, the internet and social media were years away — long-distance communication leaned largely on U.S. Mail and landline phones.

A hit song at the time, ironically, was Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again.”

Duffey and Lane were known to relatives as living transient lifestyles with occasional run-ins with the law, though neither were ever officially reported as missing persons, Sheriff’s Investigator Gerrit Tesselaar said. Some family members never even seriously considered until the past few years that either were possibly dead.

William “Billy” Everette Lane

A young William “Billy” Everette Lane pictured. Lane was recently discovered to be the identity of a male homicide victim who was found buried in a remote part of the Mojave Desert in 1980. (Courtesy of Sandra Blair) A young William “Billy” Everette Lane pictured. Lane was recently discovered to be the identity of a male homicide victim who was found buried in a remote part of the Mojave Desert in 1980. (Courtesy of Sandra Blair) 

Lane’s mother Sandra Blair, 76, explained in an interview that she and the rest of his family just assumed “Billy” was off “doing his own thing.”

“I just assumed that (his siblings and father’s family) had reported him missing,” Blair said. “Then I find out that there was never a missing persons report on him and his remains have been …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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