Loretta Lynn

Loretta Lynn was a 26-year-old married mother, pregnant with her second child in June 1988. She spent her childhood in Snowflake, Arizona, and before marrying her husband, her name was Loretta McCree. She was described as gentle, polite, and deeply committed to her faith. Loretta and her husband were active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormonism.

By the late 1980s, the couple had settled in the bustling city of Mesa, Arizona, located between Tempe and Gilbert, in the suburbs of Phoenix. They were busy raising their infant daughter and preparing for the arrival of their new baby—they had even moved into a new home on June 13. However, Loretta only spent one day in that house before her life tragically ended.

Murder

On the evening of June 13th, after moving into their new home on University and Greenfield and unpacking, Loretta’s husband had to go to work for his scheduled night shift. After completing his shift, he arrived home at 3 in the morning to find complete silence in the house.

Assuming his wife and daughter were deeply asleep, he went to join his wife in their bedroom. As he entered and turned on the light, he saw Loretta’s body lying on the rug near their bed, which was covered with stab wounds.

Her body was partially wrapped in the bed covers, with stab wounds on both the front and back sides. There were no signs of a se*ual assault. Their baby girl, safely nestled and asleep in her crib.

Loretta’s husband was soon ruled out as a suspect, as he had been seen at his work throughout the evening. DNA evidence also cleared him, leading both the police and locals to wonder who had killed Loretta. There didn’t seem to be any known enemies, but the nature of the murder suggested it was personal.

The police’s closest guess was that it might have been a burglary gone wrong. They speculated that when the husband came home, he might have interrupted the burglary, but no suspicious individuals fleeing the house were spotted. The police also doubted there could have been any motive, and they speculated that perhaps someone in a drunken stupor had simply committed the murder.

There was some truth to the burglary theory. Neighbors in the duplex had reported multiple break-in attempts over the past few weeks. Perhaps, after seeing Loretta’s car gone, possibly with her husband, the burglars assumed the house was empty. Despite this, the reason for the investigators remained unclear.

A bloody footprint at the scene was also left behind. It was a small footprint, leading investigators to believe it belonged to either a small adult or a juvenile.

Suspect

The circle of suspects was small, excluding her husband and close family members. Loretta’s cousin Dana had identified a young man living in the area, with a criminal record and a habit of scouting houses in the neighborhood, using methods similar to those used in Loretta’s case.

These methods weren’t shared, and the police claimed there were other factors that made him a strong suspect. Mesa police issued a search warrant for the man’s house, and DNA was also collected, which ultimately didn’t match.

The police also disclosed in the media that during the time of the crime, a light blue Nissan Pathfinder had been spotted in the vicinity. Similarly, a light-colored El Camino was also being considered a suspicious vehicle in the area in the weeks leading up to the murder.

DNA

In the Loretta Lynn case, a skin sample was found under one of Loretta’s fingernails, suggesting she scratched her assailant while fighting back. DNA from that sample was processed but never matched family members, persons of interest, or convicted felons whose profiles are contained in the FBI’s national database.

The DNA sample was submitted to Parabon Nanolabs for processing, but it was determined to be not viable. The police have the option to submit the fingernail itself for testing, but that would destroy the remaining sample, leaving no opportunity to test it again if new technology emerges in the future.

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