Hayward Police Department & FBI Team with Othram to Identify Suspect in the Assault and Murder of Nellie Hicks and Theresa Pica

The person responsible for the decades old assault and murder of California Bay Area residents Nellie Hicks and Theresa Pica has been identified as Fred Farnham.

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Published February 08, 2024 by Michael Vogen
Media Inquiries


In May 1972, 59-year-old Nellie Hicks, was sexually assaulted and murdered in her Newark, California home. The person responsible for Ms. Hicks’ murder and assault was not identified. Seven years later in May 1979, 48-year-old Theresa Pica was sexually assaulted and murdered in Hayward, California, a short twenty-minute drive from Newark. Evidence was collected at both crime scenes; however, DNA testing did not exist at the time. In 1979, evidence connected the two cases, but the person responsible remained a mystery.

The investigation began long before the establishment of CODIS and before more recent advancements in forensic DNA testing. Years later, when CODIS testing was available, an STR profile was developed for the suspect. However, this profile never produced a match to a known identity in CODIS. Both of the cases remained unsolved for decades, in spite of tremendous investigative effort.

In 2021, the Hayward Police Department submitted forensic evidence to Othram, in The Woodlands, Texas. Othram scientists successfully used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the unidentified suspect. After successfully building the profile, the profile was then delivered to investigators who worked with the FBI's forensic genetic genealogy team to generate new leads in the case.

With these new investigative leads in hand, a follow-up investigation ensued. Investigators were eventually able to identify the suspect in these crimes as Fred Farnham, who died in 2007. At the time of his death, Farnham lived in Oregon. It is believed that Farnham could be responsible for other unsolved murders.

Anyone with information or agencies with similar unsolved cases are encouraged to contact the Hayward Police Department at 510-293-7176.

Help fund another case Your contributions pay for lab supplies and research tools

Michael Vogen

Michael Vogen

Director of Case Management

2829 Technology Forest Blvd Suite 100, The Woodlands, Texas 77381

Michael works with law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and Canada on “unsolvable“ cases that can benefit from advanced DNA testing methods. He helps these agencies use cutting edge DNA sequencing and new forensic techniques to develop investigative leads for their cases.

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About Othram Inc.

Othram is the world’s first private DNA laboratory built specifically to apply the power of modern parallel sequencing to forensic evidence. Othram’s scientists are experts at ... Read morerecovery, enrichment, and analysis of human DNA from trace quantities of degraded or contaminated materials. Founded in 2018, and located in The Woodlands, Texas, our team works with academic researchers, forensic scientists, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies to achieve results when other approaches have failed. Follow Othram on Twitter @OthramTech or visit Othram.com to learn how we can help you with your case. With dnasolves.com anyone can make a difference and help solve the next cold case.