Barbara Nantais Murder: How Did She Die? Who Killed Her?


Investigation Discovery’s ‘People Magazine Investigates: Blood in the Sand’ chronicles the unsolved murder of 15-year-old Barbara Nantais in San Diego, California, in August 1978. Over the next 4 a few years, the investigators have give you quite a few leads and suspects regarding the rape and homicide, which stays open, with authorities offering a $1,000 reward for associated information. If you’re to know additional about this case, we’ve your once more. Let’s begin then, we might? 

How Did Barbara Nantais Die?

Barbara Jane Nantais was born on September 28, 1962, in Los Angeles County, California. Her sister, Lorraine Thall, remembers her as “a cheerleader with long brown hair, high cheekbones, and a wide smile.” In August 1978, the 15-year-old was relationship James Alt, a “tanned surfer with long blond hair.” James had as quickly as been featured in a moist swimsuit business, and their associates thought-about them the “perfect Southern California couple.” On August 12, 1978, the youthful couple decided to event with associates at Torrey Pines State Beach since Barbara’s mom and father have been out of metropolis.

After the event, Barbara and James chosen to sleep in sleeping baggage on the sand, whereas one different couple they’ve been with was determined to sleep of their automotive. James talked about, “We stood there and looked at all the fires on the beach. We thought we were going to have fun. This is cool. We’re going to camp out until we have to leave.” Little did the children perceive it was the beginning of a four-decade-and-counting-long nightmare which will disrupt their lives. James, now in his early 60s, lamented, “I was a surfer. She was a girl that worshiped the sun. This is where you’re supposed to be able to have fun. This is where innocence plays. And innocence was not here that night.”

According to James, he and Barbara fell asleep in each other’s arms inside the sleeping baggage on the great and comfy sand. That was the ultimate memory he had of the evening time. He awoke the next day, coated in blood and severely wounded on the top, with Barbara not by his side anymore. Police officers positioned her naked physique inside the sand in an area north of lifeguard tower 7, the place it had been positioned spread-eagled. She was crushed, sexually assaulted, and strangled to demise. Her mouth was filled with sand, whereas her correct nipple was almost severed with a sharp object. Passers-by had found Barbara’s physique when early risers have been out for his or her morning stroll on the seaside and often called the police.

Who Killed Barbara Nantais?

After coming to phrases with the preliminary shock on the brutality of the crime scene, the investigators started to seek for proof and collect witness testimony. From the proof, they hypothesized Barbara and James have been ambushed by an unknown or quite a few assailants, who knocked the person unconscious sooner than abducting Barbara to rape and kill her. James alleged he has no memory of the assault, claiming, “What they used to bash my head in was a rock and a log out of the fire pit.” A metallic plate in his head nonetheless serves as a cruel reminiscence of that fateful evening time.

Ronald Tatro

The investigators collected all the proof present on the scene – the three sleeping baggage {the teenager} victims slept in, the rocks utilized by the perpetrator(s), fingernail scrapings of Barbara, the necklace she was carrying, vaginal swabs, and a cigarette butt found near the physique. With not many leads or suspects, forensic science was the best guess for the investigators to maneuver forward, although it was not superior rather a lot once more then. Over the next years, quite a few DNA exams have been run on the proof, though all the findings proved inconclusive.

The San Diego Police Department crime lab reported that the majority DNA mixtures found on quite a few objects of proof have been at such low ranges that they’ve been almost unidentifiable and due to this fact inconclusive. In 2012, the detectives found James’ DNA on the rocks and unidentifiable low-level DNA mixtures, whereas the sleeping baggage yielded the DNA of Barbara, James, and the other couple. The most vital finish end result received right here from the cigarette butt that had the DNA of an unknown male, and the police report be taught, “his DNA profile will periodically be searched in opposition to the CODIS database.

In 2014, the FBI joined the case. The Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) submitted a report stating Barbara’s murder was very similar to a string of homicides in Southern California on the time. While almost all of them keep unsolved, the investigators acknowledged in 2012 a felon named Ronald Tatro and a retired criminalist for the San Diego Police Department, Kevin Brown, as a result of the potential suspects in the identical 1984 rape and murder case of 14-year-old Claire Penelope Hough. Both individuals had matching DNA samples on the proof from the crime scene. 

While Ronald handed away in a possible boating accident on August 24, 2011, Kevin took his life by hanging himself from a tree on October 21, 2014, reportedly fearing potential arrest and a maligned reputation. Kevin’s widow, Rebecca, sued the division following the suicide and gained larger than $6 million in punitive damages in 2020. On September 13, 2017, San Diego County Crime Stoppers, along with native enforcement officers, launched a reward of $1,000 for information on the case. Barbara’s homicide stays unsolved so far, though the San Diego police nonetheless cope with it as an open case and hope to crack it with cutting-edge forensic know-how shortly. 

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