MARYSVILLE – On January 26, 2017, two cousins who killed two young girls back in 1973 were sentenced to prison, more than 40 years after their cold-blooded crimes. DNA work by criminalists at several California Department of Justice labs led to the arrests of the two 65-year-old suspects, now convicted of killing Valerie Lane, 12 and Doris Derryberry, 13, both of Olivehurst.
Larry Patterson, 66, and William Harbour, 65, were arrested in September 2016. In December 2016, Patterson pleaded guilty to two counts of second degree murder. Harbour pleaded no contest to the same charges. Both were sentenced in a Yuba County courtroom to five years-to-life in prison, the maximum penalty under sentencing laws at the time of the crime.
The case went cold for decades until March of 2014, when Yuba County investigators reviewed the case for any evidence that could be developed using current techniques and processes that weren’t available in 1973. Items of evidence collected during the original investigation were submitted to the California Department of Justice Forensic Labs for analysis. In December of 2014, testing by DOJ criminalists revealed DNA evidence that was matched and identified as suspects Larry Patterson and William Harbour.
The Yuba County Sheriff’s Department, with assistance from the US Marshals and various law enforcement agencies, arrested Patterson, of Oakhurst, Oklahoma, and Harbour, of Olivehurst.
“These cold-blooded killers went on with their lives while the victim’s families mourned and missed their little girls,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “These killers would not have been caught if it weren’t for well-preserved evidence, determined detectives, and the incredible criminalists who work to solve crimes every day inside California Department of Justice labs.”
It was mid-morning on a Monday, November 12, 1973, when the parents of Valerie Lane and Doris Derryberry reported them missing as runaways. The girls were good friends and had been together the day before when they left from Doris’ Olivehurst home around noon on Sunday, November 11th to go shopping at the mall in Linda. The girls were spotted together around town several times that afternoon, including a last sighting of them between 8:30pm-9pm. When neither of the girls had returned home Monday morning, they were reported missing. Just a few hours later, Yuba County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene of two deceased girls that had been found alongside a dirt road near Camp Far West Lake outside of Wheatland at approximately 1:30pm. The victims were identified as the missing girls. Both girls were killed by shotgun blasts at close range.
“It took 43 years,” said Barcelona. “Forensic science as we know it today, didn’t even exist. But the long arm of the law, extended by DOJ criminalists, reached out and nabbed these two killers. Our thoughts continue to be with the Lane and Derryberry families, nothing will bring their girls back or the time that they have missed with them.”
The CSLEA and Association of Criminalists-DOJ (AC-DOJ) members who worked on this case include: