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California investigators crack 1980 cold case murder of woman found dead in her condo

cold case
Source: San Deigo County Sheriff's Office

Aug. 5 2021, Published 5:39 p.m. ET

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Authorities in California have used genetic genealogy to identify the person they believe killed a young woman mroe than 40 years ago in her home.

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On Oct. 9, 1980, the roommate of 20-year-old Michelle Louise Wyatt found her dead in their condominium in Santee.

Earlier that morning, the murder victim’s boyfriend left the residence, locking the front door behind him. A short time later, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, neighbors heard someone screaming but nobody phoned police.

Wyatt was sexually assaulted and the assailant used a telephone cord to strangle her to death. Items from the victim’s purse were strewn around the condo but investigators didn’t believe the crime was related to a robbery or burglary.

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Although authorities identified and spoke with multiple persons of interest, the case eventually went cold.

Sixteen years later, in October 1996, advances in DNA technology allowed detectives to review the case. Almost 90 persons of interest were investigated and many gave new biological samples, the sheriff’s department said. Nothing panned out and the case again went cold.

Source: San Deigo County Sheriff's Office
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In June 2000, even more sensitive DNA methods showed there were two separate male DNA profiles at the scene of the murder — one belonged to Wyatt’s boyfriend while the other belonged to an unidentified subject. The following year, detectives uploaded the unidentified male’s DNA to CODIS, also known as the Combined DNA Index System, but there were never any hits.

Cold case investigators selected Wyatt’s case for review in September 2020 and teamed up with the Sheriff’s Crime Laboratory and the FBI to work the murder using genetic genealogy. After nine months, authorities were able to zero in on one potential suspect: John Patrick “Pat” Hogan.

“Through further DNA testing, Hogan was determined to be the donor of the previously unknown DNA,” the sheriff’s department said. “The investigation revealed substantial and convincing evidence that Hogan sexually assaulted and murdered Michelle.”

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According to officials, Hogan was born in Arizona in 1961. In the 1970s, he moved to California and lived in Santee, where he attended high school. He may have lived in the same condominium complex as Wyatt, but also had friend in the building and would often visit, according to investigators. Hogan, who was around 19 years old in 1980, lived just over a mile away when Wyatt died.

In 2004, Hogan died at age 42.

The Cold Case Team is continuing to investigate Wyatt’s murder and would like to speak with anybody knew John "Pat" Hogan in the late 1970s and early 1980s or can provide information about Wyatt’s murder.

Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to call the Homicide Unit at (858) 285-6330/after hours at (858) 565-5200. You can remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.


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