DNA match solves case of California waitress killed in 1996


AP (Picture Courtesy Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office)

MARTINEZ, Calif. (AP) — A DNA match has helped cold case investigators solve the killing of a San Francisco Bay Area waitress whose body was found in a restaurant’s basement bathroom 25 years ago, authorities said Thursday.

A murder charge was filed by prosecutors against prison inmate Danny Lamont Hamilton, alleging he drowned Priscilla Lewis during an attempted rape and burglary at a restaurant in the city of Crockett on September 24, 1996, said a statement from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office.

The case went unsolved for decades after investigators interviewed dozens of people, submitted numerous pieces of evidence for analysis, and executed several search warrants, the statement said.

Detectives last year submitted additional evidence to a DNA crime lab and a match came back that linked Hamilton to the crime, the statement said.

He is serving a life sentence at a state prison near San Diego after being convicted of sexual assault charges unrelated to Lewis’ death, authorities said. It was not known whether he has a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.

Troy Kinslow, a cousin of Lewis who grew up with her in the nearby town of Port Costa, said her slaying haunted him for years.

“I was across the street, at the bar drinking and had seen her on her break,” Kinslow said. “And the next morning I went to the store to get something to drink and a friend said, ‘you heard about her?’”

He said he urged detectives three years ago to reexamine the case.

“They told me, ‘you have been on us.’ My thousands of texts and calls got them fired up,” he said.

Kinslow added: “It’s been a long process and it’s been very tiring emotionally and physically but I never gave up.”

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