1946 murder victim's relative is Texas lawman, who conducts own investigation into her death
A relative of a murder victim whose body was dumped in the Mojave Desert in 1946 but only recently identified through a DNA match said Friday that he has done a little investigating of his own into the case.
Shawne Walraven, chief of the DeKalb, Texas, Police Department, said Beddie Walraven, whose bones were found in 1971 near Baker, was his great-aunt.
“I didn’t know I had a great-aunt,” Walraven said. “Before they contacted me, I didn’t even know she existed.”
The news came after years of painstaking work by San Bernardino County coroner investigators and scientists at the state attorney general’s DNA laboratory in Richmond.
In December 2005, highly degraded biological samples from the bones were sent to the state lab; it took scientists five years to develop a usable DNA profile. Meanwhile, coroner investigators located two relatives of Walraven who provided DNA.
One of them was Shawne Walraven, who then began his own inquiry.
His father led him to a great-uncle in Arkansas who told him the story of his sister, Beddie. Walraven called Santa Ana police who had dug up an old file that included a mid-1950s murder confession given by a career criminal in Santa Ana.
For more than two years, the case would become an off-hours obsession for Walraven.
“Once you put it all together, you have the whole story of what happened,” he said.
And it's a story as dark as a desert night.
Chief Walraven’s great-uncle told him that Beddie was a “sweet girl” who was cheating on her husband with a man who was “mean as a rattlesnake.” On a visit to Texas, they stole a $10,000 war bond from Beddie’s parents and hightailed it to California.
“That’s the last they ever saw her,” Walraven said. “To this day, that war bond has never been cashed.”
According to the case file, Walraven says, the two were having sex when a woman -- who had the same last name as the man -- burst into the room and shot Beddie in the head.
The man told police the two of them dumped Beddie's body in the desert, Walraven said.
The man was never charged; why is unclear. Walraven says his research found that the man later killed a police officer, was sent to prison and has since died.
And the alleged trigger woman? Until a few years ago, Walraven said, a woman by the same name was living in Oregon.
On Thursday, a Santa Ana homicide investigator was assigned to the case.
-- Mike Anton
Photo: Beddie Walraven. Credit: San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department