A man who maintained his innocence after being convicted in the decades-old murder of a 14-year-old girl died in prison five years ago – and the case has recently been linked to that of the Golden State Killer – who was arrested in April on suspicion of at least 12 deaths and 50 rapes in the same vicinity.
Oscar Archie Clifton, died in 2013 while serving a life term for the murder of Donna Jo Richmond, who mysteriously vanished from her home in Exeter, California, on December 26, 1975.
Clifton was 35 at the time he was arrested for kidnapping after authorities found an invoice book that they believed to belong to the carpenter – based on the name written inside.
Hours after his arrest, the young girl was discovered by another resident. Richmond was stabbed and strangled to death and was not wearing pants or underwear.
Oscar Archie Clifton (pictured right in an undated handout) died while serving a life sentence for murdering 14-year-old Donna Jo Richmond (left in an undated handout)
Accused Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo joined the Exeter Police Department in 1973 (he is pictured above in uniform)
Clifton was also an easy suspect as he had been convicted nearly ten years prior for attempted rape and assault, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Clifton was initially been charged with kidnapping was later convicted in the murder of Richmond before he died behind bars in 2013.
There has been speculation about who killed Richmond after 72-year-old accused Golden State Killer, Joseph James DeAngelo, was arrested as a suspect in at least 12 other murders and more than 50 rapes and sexual assaults as well as numerous burglaries.
In this handout provided by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, is shown in his booking photo April 25, 2018 in Sacramento, California
According to the Sacramento Bee, DeAngelo had been employed as a police officer in Exeter, where Richmond lived at the time of her mysterious disappearance.
The city is also located in Tulare County – where several of the crimes that DeAngelo is accused of committing took place.
Los Angeles attorney Tony Reid, who is familiar with the case, believes Clifton was innocent of the 1975 murder and may have been framed.
Reid said on his podcast 12-26-75 ‘He was innocent… wrongful convictions are difficult to decipher because there are half-truths and lies. (But) the truth speaks for itself. The evidence speaks for itself.’
Last November, police in Tulare County had asked the public for information regarding a similar killing – this time that of a young Visalia girl – which happened the year before Richmond’s murder.
Jennifer Armour, 15, vanished the evening of November 15, 1974 after she left her home to attend high school football game with friends.
Armour never arrived to the game and when her family had not heard from her in several hours, they reported her missing the following day.
DeAngelo is arraigned in a Sacramento courtroom and charged with murdering Katie and Brian Maggiore in Rancho Cordova in 1978 on Friday, April 27, 2018, in Sacramento, California
The 72-year-old former police officer is believed to have killed at least 12 people, raped over 45 women and burglarized hundreds of homes throughout California in the 1970s and 1980s
Police said in a press release the teen’s body was found on November 24, 1974 in a canal near Woodlake. No arrests were ever made and the case remains open.
Detective Dwayne Johnson released a social media statement back in November on both the murders.
‘Tulare County Sheriff’s Cold Case detectives are asking the public to think back to the mid-1970s for information about a man who was convicted of murdering an Exeter teen, Donna Richmond.
‘Her killer, Oscar Clifton, may have murdered a Visalia girl the year before, said Det. Dwayne Johnson. There are similarities in the cases,’ the detective wrote in the statement.
‘Both girls were blonde and blue-eyed and their bodies were discovered south of Woodlake and north of Exeter about a year apart.’
Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar said in April he believes DeAngelo is the so-called Visalia Ransacker – who terrorized the farming community where Armour grew up – in 1974 and 1975.
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