Old Fingerprint Evidence Helps ID Suspect in 1979 Cold Case Killing

Sunnyvale police car
NBC Bay Area

A 41-year-old cold case homicide suspect is in custody after a Sunnyvale police detective dug up old fingerprint evidence left at the scene of the crime.

Since 2018, Detective Matt Hutchison has been investigating the 1979 slaying of Keith Judd inside his bar, the Lakewood Lounge.

Police believe that on July 19, Judd, 45, had gone to the bar early in the morning to clean up and deal with the previous night's transactions when he was attacked and killed during the course of a robbery.

At about 5:30 a.m., a bar employee discovered Judd laying in a pool of blood and called police.

Judd was taken to the hospital, where he later died.  

At the time, officers investigating the crime found fingerprints and footprints in blood and even arrested a suspect, but the district attorney's office declined to prosecute, citing a lack of evidence, according to Sunnyvale police officials.

Then, years later, Hutchinson found "fingerprint evidence that had been misplaced" and that allegedly points to Thomas Hinnard, a man in his 80s living in the Tuolumne County town of Sonora.

Police say Hinnard lived in Sunnyvale at the time of the killing, worked in the same shopping center where the bar was located and frequented the Lakewood Lounge.

Hutchinson spent months first finding then re-interviewing witnesses, including Hinnard, whom police claim lied and incriminated himself.

Hinnard was arrested on Feb. 12 on suspicion of murder, according to police.

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