‘On the Case With Paula Zahn: A Quest for Justice’ on Investigation Discovery recounts the June 1988 murder of 26-year-old Loretta Lynn inside her brand-new Mesa, Arizona, home. When her husband dialled 911, the police arrived and discovered a number of pieces of forensic evidence. Law enforcement personnel were led down a path of turns and turns for more than three decades, confident they would rapidly solve the case. We’ve got your back if you’re curious about what happened to Loretta and how she passed away. So let’s get started, shall we?
How Did Loretta Lynn Die?
Sarah Freeman’s daughter Loretta McCray was raised in Snowflake-Taylor in Navajo County, Arizona. “Innocent, naive, and beautiful,” was how her cousin Karen Dana of Tempe characterised the 26-year-old Mesa resident. And she said, “Loretta did not know how beautiful she was.” She was portrayed by her family as being sweet, gentle, devoted to her Latter-Day Saint beliefs, and devoted to her family. According to Dennise Morris, Loretta Lynn was frequently referred to as a “angel” because of her benevolent nature and her religious convictions. When they weren’t paying visits to one another’s homes, Karen said that she and Loretta would religiously exchange letters.
She affirmed that their relationship was not just based on blood and reflected on how she and her life had been similar. Our class graduated together. Together, we went on missions. We got married a few months apart to our spouses. They were also meant to “become old ladies together,” she continued. After getting married to Alan Lynn in the middle of the 1980s and giving birth to a daughter in late 1987, Loretta was overjoyed to become a mother. In June 1988, Alan and Loretta Lynn made the decision to relocate to Mesa, Arizona’s Maricopa County, with their young daughter.
On June 14, at around 3 am, Alan frantically dialled 911 and the Mesa Police Department got the call. He stated he had found his wife cold and unresponsive when he returned from his night work. Alan hurried across the house to check on their infant, who was 7 months old at the time, and was happy to see that she was safe and sound and sleeping. He claimed to have seen a back sliding door ajar but no one was in the immediate area. Alan said he ran back and called the police right away.
The distraught husband was waiting at the front door of the Lynn home on the 4700 block of East Camino Street when the emergency personnel came. He was covered in blood. He claimed that while giving his wife CPR, he became completely bloody. One of the cops stayed with him, and the other went to the residence to make sure the alleged attacker wasn’t still there. The detectives focused on the 26-year-old after they had cleaned the house. The expectant mother had a lot of blood on her arms, under her, and around her head.
The police made the assumption that the attack had taken place about an hour before their arrival based on the freshness of the blood and the absence of staining or clotting. The incision scars they discovered on Loretta’s back when they rolled her over showed that she had been ambushed while she was sleeping. The fact that her clothing was still on meant there had not been a sexual assault, but the killer’s brutality suggested he or she may have had a grudge. The officers also discovered nothing missing or looted, ruling out the likelihood of a botched heist.
She had many stab wounds, according to the autopsy report, but the fatal stabbing that perforated her heart and lungs was the actual cause of death. The offender most likely attacked Loretta out of a fit of passion or anger, according to the medical examiner. They only discovered a few superficial defence wounds, indicating that she had retaliated. The finding of a skin sample under one of her fingernails, proving she had scratched her killer while battling with them, supported their theory even more.
Who Killed Loretta Lynn?
Investigators found wood chips by the front door, which would indicate that the intruder forced open the door to gain entry. A second check of the house turned up a partial footprint in the backyard, a grease stain on the sheets, and a clear palm print on one of the glass panes. Additionally, they discovered a thread in the victim’s hand that didn’t match anything in her clothing or mattress, indicating that it was likely worn by her assassin. The police suspected Alan from the beginning of their inquiry since she had not been sexually abused, nothing had been stolen from the house, and the baby was unhurt.
After speaking with him, they discovered that he had left his factory about 2:25 am and returned home. The investigators drove from Alan’s factory to the house after speaking with his coworkers and determining exactly when he punched out to confirm his alibi. Alan was unable to carry out the attack, according to the exercise, and he passed the polygraph. The police eliminated him as a suspect after his palm print didn’t match the one at the crime scene. Alan claimed to have spoken to his wife for the last time on June 14 in the afternoon.
The painters they hired to refurbish their duplex home claimed he had called her to let her know they wouldn’t be working that day. Alan claimed that when he called Loretta, she sounded fine and said that she was on her way to the store to buy milk. Grease and the use of prying tools appeared to implicate the hired employees, but each of them has a strong defence. A person had reportedly been held on the night of the murder owing to supposed suspicious behaviour around a mile from the Lynn residence, the police discovered after searching through their records.
His automobile was inspected for evidence, and his palm print was collected for processing, if he had previously been arrested for domestic burglary. He was swiftly eliminated as a suspect, though. The police spoke with neighbours as well and discovered another lead—a neighbouring teen’s boyfriend with a history of criminal burglary—but they were unable to connect him to the murder. They discovered that several people had seen a light-colored Chevrolet El Camino and a light-blue Nissan Pathfinder prior to the murder.
Police also had trouble figuring out the crime’s motive since, in Karen’s words, “There was nothing about her that would have invited evil into her life.” The Mesa Police and Loretta’s family went over the case records several times over the ensuing three decades and followed every clue they could think of. They even sent a DNA sample from the past to Parabon Nanolabs, who confirmed it was no longer viable in 2018. In May 2022, the authorities provided Bode Technology with another sample.
The Virginia-based DNA testing service lab has made advances in DNA technology that enable forensic specialists to analyse DNA samples to identify suspect surnames in unsolved homicide cases across the US. The lab reportedly delivered the Mesa Police its analysis a month later, narrowing down the suspects to having the surnames Duley/Dooley or Hayes. The authorities are appealing for potential witnesses to come forward in order to help solve the 34-year-old crime even though they have not yet made an arrest based on the new information.
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