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Ex-Tournament of Roses director linked to slaying was model citizen

February 10, 2012 |  8:23 am
Richard Allan Munnecke, the former Tournament of Roses director arrested this week on suspicion of killing Rose Parade volunteer Donna Lee Kelly in 2004, was leading a normal life until DNA evidence linked him to the crime, authorities said

A former Tournament of Roses director arrested this week on suspicion of killing a Rose Parade volunteer in 2004 was leading a normal life until DNA evidence linked him to the crime, authorities said.

By all accounts, Richard Allan Munnecke, 71, was a model citizen. In addition to several decades of working up the ranks of the Tournament of Roses until he was one of its top directors, he served in the Pasadena Rotary Club and many other civic groups. The San Marino Community Church, where Munnecke sang in the choir, recently profiled him and his wife in its newsletter, describing them as "the kind of Christians that might be considered the beating heart of the Church."

But authorities said DNA evidence helped them arrest Munnecke, who they believe was involved in a romantic relationship with Donna Lee Kelly, 59, a Buick saleswoman who was also a longtime volunteer for the annual parade effort. In 2004, Kelly was found dead, stuffed in the trunk of her car. Police investigated, but the case quickly went cold.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigators collected DNA evidence from Kelly's body, apartment and car but found no matches in federal and state DNA databases, and the investigation languished for lack of evidence.

Recently Sheriff's Department detectives said they were able to test genetic material obtained from Munnecke. That evidence links him to Kelly's slaying, they said, but they declined to provide more details about the case or discuss a motive.

People who know Munnecke said the allegations are hard to accept because he has been such a big force in the community for many decades.

"He was just such a consummate gentleman, a supporter of many good causes in town," said Todd Moore, who worked with Munnecke on the board of the Pasadena Council of the Navy League of the United States. "I'm still trying to process everything."

Kelly's family issued a brief statement saying that they are "pleased that the investigation is reaching a conclusion and are very grateful to the [Sheriff's Department investigators] for their tireless investigative efforts."

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-- Adolfo Flores, Andrew Blankstein and Rong-Gong Lin II

Photos: Richard Allan Munnecke and Donna Lee Kelly. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

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