Suzanne Bombardier

1980 cold case solved? Police arrest convict sex offender 37 years later for the murder, rape of young girl

California authorities think they have a 37-year-old cold case solved after arresting a registered sex offender for killing and raping a teen girl in 1980.

MSN reports that Antioch police arrested Mitchell Lynn Bacom, 63, of Antioch, on Monday afternoon and charged him with the rape and murder of kidnapping 14-year-old Suzanne Bombardier, who was babysitting when the suspect allegedly sexually assaulted her and stabbed her in the heart on  June 22, 1980. Several days later, a fisherman located the teen’s body in the San Joaquin River.

Although the case garnered nationwide attention, lack of evidence resulted in the case eventually growing cold. Detectives Gregory Glod and Ron Rackley worked the case for decades before they retired, but in 2014, they were connected again to the victim’s family and one the victim’s closest friends.

Author Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons arranged the meeting after she stumbled across Suzanne’s grave in Lafayette, in the Queen of Heaven Cemetery, when a strange man at the cemetery walked up to her and asked if she had a pen. The encounter made her “obsessed” with case and finding justice for Suzanne.

“Do you have a pen?” he asked.

I was a little startled. First because he disrupted my quiet, second because the request was so odd. “No, sorry,” I said.

“Would the office have a pen?”

“I think so,” I said.

Why you would need a pen here? I wanted to ask. Instead, he headed toward the office, and being nosy, I wandered to look at the grave he was visiting.”

Along with family and friends, the retired detectives convinced Antioch detectives to take another look at the cold case, especially considering the latest technological advances in DNA testing.

In 2015, authorities sent Suzanne’s body to the Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Laboratory, where a DNA profile was created. Meanwhile, investigators utilized the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, which eventually linked back to Bacom.

“We literally saw within the past 12 months the technology improve to the point where we were able to get a match,” Contra Costa DA inspector Paul Holes said  said. “The crime labs are using new chemistry in the DNA process.”

“Justice may not have come swiftly as we may have hoped or liked,” Contra Costa District Attorney Diane Becton said, the East Bay Times reported. “But we will continue to work diligently on these cases and hopefully justice will come.”

Police arrested Bacom at his home off of West Madill Street in Antioch. Authorities said that the suspect has a long criminal history, including convictions for rape, robbery, burglary, and assault with intent to murder

In 1996, Suzanne’s father, Ted Bombardier, told the Constra Coast Times that the suspect attacked his daughter inside her sister’s Hudson Court apartment, yet there was no forced entry.

“Obviously, there was no forced entry. She must have known who it was.”

Police confirmed that the suspect was an acquaintance of the victim, but wouldn’t specify their relationship or how they knew each other.

Authorities said they’re investigating Bacum for other homicide cases. Anyone with information about the suspect should call Capt. Leonard Orman at 925-779-6918.

[Feature Photo: Suzanne Bombardier and Mitchell Bacom/Police Handout]