A man has been arrested and charged with killing and sexually assaulting a 79-year-old Anaheim woman who was found dead in her apartment 41 years ago.
Anaheim Police said Friday that New Mexico resident Andre William Lepere, 64, had been arrested for the death of Viola Hagenkord and was facing first degree murder charges with an allegation of rape in special circumstances by the Orange District Attorney’s Office.
Lepere is being held without bond in Otero County, New Mexico, pending extradition proceedings. We did not know who represented him.
On February 18, 1980, police intervened at Hagenkord’s home in the 2500 block of West Winston Road after a neighbor entered his apartment and found his body. She had been “very well liked” in her community and her neighbors had become worried after not seeing her for two days, according to the Anaheim police sergeant. Shane Carringer.
Officials determined that Hagenkord died of asphyxiation, Carringer said.
Detectives investigated the case for the next several decades, but never identified a suspect. Lepere was ultimately arrested following DNA evidence, Carringer said, but he did not provide further details on how the identification was made or the original leads pursued.
“In September, they came back, took another look,” he said. “They thought it would be a new candidate for emerging DNA technology.”
Carringer said that in 1992 a jury acquitted Lepere of an attempted murder allegedly committed in California, but could not provide further details.
Lepere lived near Hagenkord and worked as a truck driver and plumber. Carringer said it was not clear whether Lepere had a direct relationship with Hagenkord and that police had not identified a motive.
DNA technology has also solved Orange County’s oldest homicide case. In July, officials announced they had used genetic genealogy to identify the man who killed Anita Louise Piteau in Huntington Beach 52 years earlier.