New DNA testing in hunt for killer of teen at Torrey Pines beach - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

New DNA testing in hunt for killer of teen at Torrey Pines beach

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Cold case detectives will conduct new DNA testing on evidence in the 1978 murder of a teenage girl at Torrey Pines beach. 

It’s been 38 years since Barbara Nantais was beaten, mutilated with a knife and strangled as she slept with her boyfriend, Jim Alt.  On Wednesday, Alt met with San Diego Police homicide detectives who told him forensics may solve this cold case. 

“I took my girlfriend to the beach and I didn't bring her home.  I didn't bring her home to her family,” recalled Alt. 

On August 13, 1978, the two teenage lovers were attacked in their sleeping bag in the middle of the night at the north end of Torrey Pines, near lifeguard tower seven. 

“They thought they had killed me and they eventually did kill Barbara by multiple means: stabbing, mutilation and strangling,” said Alt. 

The 15-year-old girl died at the scene.  She was found spread eagle and naked, her right nipple almost completely cut away from her breast.  Alt was age 17 at the time.  His head was smashed with a rock.  He was knocked unconscious and has no memory of the attack. 

But now, SDPD detectives have ordered new testing on the rock used in the attack.  It may provide the DNA needed to catch the killer. 

“DNA, blood I would imagine.  Hopefully, sweat, saliva, or something from the perpetrator,” said Alt. 

On Wednesday, Alt and his family met with SDPD detectives and Chief Shelley Zimmerman, as they do every year on the anniversary of the murder. 

This year, for the first time, investigators revealed that they have already recovered unidentified DNA from the crime scene, which has been entered into a national database. 

“They didn't specify what type of DNA, they just said they have DNA – both male and female – on the outside of a green sleeping bag,” recalled family friend Jan Smith. 

Those DNA samples and the possibility of finding new samples on the rock are giving the family hope that the decades-old murder mystery may one day be solved. 

“I'm hoping there’s a hit.  I mean, that's all we have is hope and a prayer,” said Smith. 

Alt also asked the detectives about the possibility of turning over the SDPD case file to the FBI for additional investigative assistance. 

“I would love for the case to be solved.  I would live to put a face to this crime.  I don’t know if that’s going to happen unless they open up those case files to somebody because they’ve had it for 38 years,” said Alt. 

Another teenage girl, Claire Hough, was murdered six years later on the same stretch of beach in 1984. 

Blood evidence DNA eventually identified her killer, a convicted sex offender who was in prison in another state at the time of Barbara Nantais’ murder in 1978. 

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