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Pasadenans shocked at arrest of Tournament of Roses ex-director

February 9, 2012 |  2:06 pm

Richard Allen MunneckePasadenans expressed shock Thursday at the arrest of a onetime Tournament of Roses director who is suspected in the cold-case slaying of a Rose parade volunteer.

Authorities arrested Richard Allan Munnecke, 71, in connection with the death of Donna Lee Kelly, 59, whose body was found in the trunk of her car three weeks after she was reported missing in April 2004, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.

Detectives believe a romantic relationship might be at the center of the slaying.

"I knew him for over 50 years, we went to high school together and I just never would've thought this of him," said Kenneth Hill, president of the Pasadena Rotary and an auxiliary member of the Tournament of Roses.

"I was shocked," said Hill, who knew Munnecke when they were students at San Marino High School, and never thought of him as being violent.

Todd Moore, who worked with Munnecke on the board of the Pasadena Council of the Navy League of the United States, said he felt sick to his stomach when he heard about the arrest.

"He was just such a consummate gentleman, a supporter of many good causes in town," said Moore, the council's immediate past president. "I'm still trying to process everything."

Bill Flinn, executive director of the Tournament of Roses, said he's known Munnecke for "many" years.

"The situation is very tragic for all that have been affected," Flinn said. "Certainly we are respectful of the process and the investigation that's currently in the hands of authorities."

The slaying victim, Kelly, was a Rose Parade volunteer, which is how she met Munnecke, officials said.

Munnecke denied he had a romantic relationship with Kelly, but detectives believe he did and that might figure into a motive in the case, according to law enforcement sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Kelly's body was found by her daughter as she drove through Eaton Canyon in Pasadena and "smelled a foul odor emanating from the trunk," the L.A. County Sheriff's Department said in a statement. "She looked inside and found her mother's decomposed body."

The case had gone cold until detectives recently gathered new evidence and obtained a DNA sample from Munnecke. He was being held Thursday in lieu of $1-million bail.


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-- Adolfo Flores in Pasadena and Andrew Blankstein


Photo: Richard Allan Munnecke. Credit: L.A. County Sheriff's Department