Los Angeles: An arrest has been made in a 1985 cold case murder investigation.
On August 6, 1985, 76-year-old Myrtice Lawton attended the funeral of her common-law husband Joe Jones. Following the services, she invited several friends to her residence in the 1700 block of East 42nd Street. Ms. Lawton’s friends stayed at her house until approximately 1:00 a.m. The following morning at 9 o’clock, a friend who had been at the previous night’s gathering noticed that Ms. Lawton’s front door was open. She called out for Ms. Lawton but received no response. Later that day the friend again passed the house and noticed that the door was still open. Again she called out. When she received no response she called the police.
When the police arrived, they entered and saw blood on various objects and furniture throughout the residence. In addition, several items had been knocked over. They went to the kitchen, where they discovered Ms. Lawton dead on the floor with a steak knife lying near her body. The investigation revealed the cause of death was multiple stab wounds. There was evidence that someone had forced his way into the residence by cutting a screen and entering through a window.
During the original investigation, detectives interviewed numerous witnesses and discovered that Eric Green, an acquaintance of Joe Jones, had attended the reception at the house. According to witnesses, Green left with the final guests at approximately 1:00 a.m. and Ms. Lawton locked both the front security door and house door. When Eric Green was interviewed he admitted being at the reception but denied any knowledge of the crime. The investigation revealed two blood types at the crime scene, one belonging to the victim, and detectives believed the suspect had injured himself during the assault. However, at the time of the murder, DNA analysis didn’t exist as a forensic tool. The then-available ABO blood typing was incapable of identifying a suspect.
Detectives Shepard and Ramirez of the Robbery-Homicide Division Cold Case Homicide Unit examined the case and requested that a DNA analysis be completed on the blood found at the residence. As a result of the analysis, a DNA profile was obtained and entered into the Combined Offender DNA Index System (CODIS) databank. A “cold hit” was obtained on the same Eric Green who was originally investigated at the time of the murder. A current background check of Green revealed that he is now a 54-year-old inmate at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo, where he is serving a three-year sentence for a narcotics offense. He was scheduled to be released August 13, 2005.
Detectives Shepard and Ramirez conducted an extensive investigation during which they re-interviewed Eric Green, the original witnesses, and processed additional physical evidence. As a result, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed a felony complaint for murder against Eric Green August 8, 2005. It is expected that he will be transported to Los Angeles for arraignment on the murder charge within the next two weeks.
Any questions may be directed to the LAPD Media Relations Section at 213-485-3586.