Family finds renewed hope 30 years after young woman’s death

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SAN DIEGO -- A cold case recently solved by San Diego Police is raising questions about another murder investigation gone unsolved for more than 30 years.

“The way she died still haunts us,” said Lorraine Thall, whose sister, Barbara Nantais, was 15 years old when she was found dead at Torrey Pines State Beach 36 years ago.

“I have to believe that there’s more to life than just the physical, 'cause the physical part of what happened to her is the most horrible part,” Thall said from the synagogue where she spends most of her time.

Nantais was found strangled with part of her breasts severed and her mouth stuffed with sand.

Her death is shockingly and gruesomely similar to that of Claire Hough, who was 14 years old when she was found dead at Torrey Pines 6 years later.

“It’s hard not to think that they are related,” Thall said. She was speaking in response to a statement from San Diego Police after they announced a break in the Hough case connecting new DNA evidence to two suspects: Ron Tatro, a known criminal who died in a boating accident in 2011 and Kevin Brown, a SDPD criminologist.

Brown's body was found hanging from a tree in an apparent suicide just last week.

Unlike what many had come to believe, investigators said none of the new evidence connects the two cases.

“I’d love to believe it," Thall said. "I’d love to believe that Ronald Tatro and Kevin Brown did it 'cause that would be it."

Thall said police are now putting more resources towards solving her sister's murder with new DNA technology that was used to solve Hough’s cold case.

“It would be awesome to have closure, but I have to learn to live with the fact that I may never get it,” she said.


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  • Carolyn O'Barr

    I’m so happy to hear that this case is being investigated and that the family may finally get closure. They have been waiting an incredibly long time.

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