A Las Vegas man has been arrested on suspicion of a 1980 murder after modern analysis of DNA evidence tied him to the slaying of 18-year-old Michelle Jones, whose body was found in a dirt field in Fontana that year, authorities said on Monday, Sept. 14.
Leonard Nash, 66, awaits extradition from Nevada to face a first-degree murder charge, Fontana police and the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office said.
Forensic material had been collected in an autopsy of Jones, a Fontana resident, but the technology of 40 years ago prevented analysis that might have led to a suspect.
Detectives exhausted leads and the case went cold.
This year, the department sent evidence collected from the autopsy to the Riverside/San Bernardino CAL-DNA Laboratory, where it was determined the DNA was from a single, unknown male.
“Investigators conducted follow-up interviews with family members, which lead to a person of interest in the investigation,” the department said in a statement.
Investigators collected DNA from that person, which the laboratory matched to the DNA collected from the victim, prosecutors said.
Nash had been a boyfriend of an older sister of the victim, said another sister, Kimberly Jones, 51.
“He stopped coming around as much after it happened,” she said, who was 12 when her sister died.
Jones has tenaciously sought for justice for Michelle over the years.
The suspect was recently taken into custody.
In 1980, The San Bernardino Sun reported that Fontana police had found the victim, with her age then estimated as 14 to 25 years old, on July 5. They had received an anonymous tip that led them to an orange grove west of Live Oak Avenue.
Police said Monday the location was a dirt field near Live Oak and Santa Ana avenues.
This is the oldest case ever solved in Fontana, prosecutors said.