Police Seek Public’s Help in Californian Cold Case

Kerry Patterson, 15, was murdered in 1980 and no culprit has ever been caught.

Verity Partington
3 min readJan 12, 2022


Investigators in Orange County have asked for the public’s help in solving a murder that occurred more than 40 years ago.

Kerry Patterson was 15 and had just moved with her family to the Sunny Hills part of Fullerton in California when she disappeared on June 26th 1980.

The teenager had been asked by her mother Chrystal to stay at home with her younger sister that day so there would be someone in to meet the removals van with another load of furniture.

However, Kerry decided to duck out for a short while to meet with friends at a nearby ice cream parlour. She was given a ride home on a bike belonging to one of them when they were done, and the friend said he dropped her off within sight of her home near Parks Junior High School.

Despite only having a short distance to walk back, Kerry never made it — and she was never seen alive again. Although police initially treated her case as that of a runaway, Kerry’s family knew better and distributed missing persons flyers around the neighbourhood in the hope of finding their loved one.

But just over six months later on December 27th 1980, part of Kerry’s skull, her femur and two bones from her arm were discovered in a field in Brea around five miles from where she was last seen. Heartbreakingly, Chrystal had made the connection to the remains herself after seeing an item about unidentified bones in the local paper and getting in touch with the coroner.

In an interview with the Orange County Register, Chrystal slammed the official investigation that was carried out at the time, commenting: “The police response was horrifyingly horrible. Those police weren’t doing crap.”

Unfortunately, there was no DNA to be found on the bone fragments and no sign of anything else related to Kerry, including her clothing and other possessions. With little to go on, the case went cold.

But in 2020, someone came forward with a tip about a man they had seen in the Fullerton area at the time Kerry disappeared. They provided a description, from which investigators drew up a composite sketch.

Image: (Orange County Sheriff’s Department)



Verity Partington

A writer and author of crime thrillers living in the UK. Partial to books, stationery, papercrafts and walking. You can find her books on Amazon here: https://a