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Suspect in East Bay rapes, murders from 1970s identified using DNA

A now-dead serial rapist and murderer has been identified as a suspect in two brutal East Bay killings from the 1970s, according to law enforcement officials.

Police in both Newark and Hayward said modern DNA testing technology enabled them to identify Fred Bernard Farnham as a suspect in the rape and beating deaths of 59-year-old Nellie Hicks and 48-year-old Theresa Pica.

Hicks was allegedly killed in her Newark home on May 10, 1972 by Farnham, who police believe entered through a back door. Pica was also killed in her own home after Farnham allegedly entered the Hayward house through an open door or window on May 21, 1979.

Following their killings, both women were discovered by their children, according to police.

Investigators at the time believed the cases were linked based on their similarities and officers from both departments worked together throughout the years to solve the homicides.

Police said Farnham, a former Santa Clara County resident who died in an Oregon hospital in 2007 at age 73, had several rape convictions during his life, including some from the Bay Area.

Any law enforcement agencies with similar cases should contact Hayward Police Detective Robert Purnell at (510) 293-7176.

The Serological Research Institute in Richmond, the Othram laboratory in The Woodlands, Texas, the FBI and Astrea Forensics in Santa Cruz all contributed to the investigation.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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