WHITTIER — A 50 year-old man linked through DNA evidence to the 1981 rape and murder of a young woman in her Whittier home pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder, authorities said.
Joseph Allan Thornton was arrested at his Auburn home April 16 after DNA collected from the scene of the June 27, 1981 slaying of 21-year-old Blanca Stella Negrete at her home in the 7600 block of Washington Avenue, according to Whittier police Lt. Kent Miller
After entering his plea in Whittier Superior Court, Thornton was ordered to return to court July 30 for a preliminary hearing setting.
Detectives were left with no leads in the long-cold homicide investigation when the case was reopened in May of 2010, and investigators DNA samples taken during the original investigation which could now be used for DNA analysis, Miller said.
Because of a domestic violence arrest since Negrete’s killing, officials said, Thornton’s DNA had been entered into a national database, and came back as a match when checked against the DNA evidence from the 1981 homicide scene.
Family members of both Negrete and Thornton appeared in court Thursday.
PHOTO of Thornton courtesy of the Whittier Police Department