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.