Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

DNA links killer to 1974 slaying of Pomona woman, authorities say

December 30, 2010 |  5:04 pm

When Robert Edward Stansbury died seven years ago while awaiting execution on San Quentin’s death row, some worried that he would take the full extent of his crimes to his grave.

Stansbury, an ice cream truck driver, was serving time for raping and killing a 10-year-old girl. He had a long record of sexual assaults, at least once using his ice cream truck as a ruse. Detectives long suspected there were more victims but could not prove it.

This week, however, Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives announced that they have DNA evidence linking Stansbury to a decades-old cold case in Pomona.

Detectives said DNA taken from him after an unrelated felony conviction was matched to evidence collected in the 1974 slaying of Barbara Hall, a 29-year-old developmentally disabled woman who was strangled and abandoned near a Claremont horse trail. Police believe the Pomona woman was waiting for a bus home from work at a continuation school where she worked caring for infants.

The day of her disappearance, there was a bus strike -- a fact Hall apparently didn’t know when she arrived at her bus stop. She was never seen alive again. A day later, her body was discovered. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

Stansbury has a history of abducting and sexually assaulting victims.

In 1982, he lured Robyn Leigh Jackson, 10, into his truck with the promise of free ice cream and candy. He raped and beat the girl before stuffing her limp body into his ice cream cooler.

She died the next day after he dumped her body into a Pasadena flood control channel. Before that, he also had been convicted of other sexual assaults dating to 1959, police said.

“This guy should never have been on the street,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Longshore. “Just a predator, just dangerous.”

Stansbury covered much of San Gabriel Valley and the unincorporated areas of East Los Angeles in his ice cream truck. Police believe there may still be other victims, and are seeking the public’s help.

“This guy was causing some serious damage wherever he went,” said Capt. Mike Parker. “We would not be surprised if someone saw this news story … that somebody’s going to have a very bad memory about this guy and put two and two together.”

Authorities said Hall’s body showed no defensive injuries, even though she was known to be distrustful of strangers, a combination that’s led Longshore to believe she may have been forced to come with Stansbury at gunpoint.

Her body was found just a day later on a trail in the area bordering San Dimas and Claremont. Hall’s case was recently reopened by cold case detectives, who used DNA technology not available at the time of the initial investigation. Old evidence slides were located at the coroner’s office, which crime lab technicians were able to match to Stansbury’s DNA sample.

The response from Hall’s two surviving sisters was emotional, Longshore said.

“I told them there’s really not going to be any closure,” he said. “But at least I’ll give them some answers.”

Stansbury died at San Quentin State Prison at the age of 60. He had made headlines for a lengthy court battle he had undertaken, arguing that his Miranda rights had been infringed in that case.

Police believe it’s “likely” he had other victims, particularly between 1974 and 1982.

Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at (323) 890-5000.

-- Robert Faturechi