LASD Homicide – Unsolved Unit Solves 24 Year Old Case
LASD Homicide – Unsolved Unit Solves 24 Year Old Rape/Murder Case of a 67-Year-Old Female Victim
On January 19, 1996, Mary Lindgren was discovered brutally beaten, raped, and murdered inside her 1ST-floor bedroom at the “Covina Villa Retirement Home,” an assisted living center for senior citizens. Mary Lindgren lived alone in her room and was discovered by facility staff at approximately 7:30 am. Rescue personnel responded to the location and pronounced Mary Lindgren dead at the scene. Mary Lindgren was 67 years old at the time of her murder.
Homicide investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene and assisted the Covina Police Department with the murder investigation. Sheriff’s Homicide investigators, along with a Department crime lab scientist and forensic identification specialist, conducted a thorough and exhaustive crime scene investigation. Several items of evidence, including DNA, were collected and held for forensic analysis. Investigators conducted extensive interviews with facility staff members, residents, and their families, outside vendors, contractors, delivery personnel, as well as neighbors living near and around the facility. All were cleared and excluded as potential suspects in this case.
DNA evidence, believed to belong to the suspect, was recovered from the crime scene and analyzed by the forensic biology section of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Crime Lab. Although the suspect DNA profile was developed, the unidentified male offender’s DNA profile did not match any profiles within the state or federal criminal justice DNA databases.
Homicide investigators, in this case, initiated state and national crime broadcasts to participating law enforcement agencies, detailing Mary Lindgren’s murder. Throughout the years, investigators continued to send out the crime broadcasts, which resulted in several leads of possible suspects connected with similar criminal behavior. All leads were thoroughly investigated by Homicide investigators but failed to lead to a suspect in Mary Lindgren’s murder.
In 2019, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office collaborated with LASD Homicide Investigators assigned to the Unsolved Unit, to submit the unidentified offender’s DNA profile to the California State Department of Justice a state-of-the-art DNA search and identification process. In July of 2020, California Department of Justice officials notified investigators from the Sheriff’s Homicide Unsolved Unit and the District Attorney’s Office of their results. Utilizing the results provided by the California Department of Justice, detectives focused their investigation on the probable suspect. Subsequently, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Investigators assigned to the Unsolved Unit, along with Sheriff’s Crime Lab personnel, identified David Adolph Bernal, a 46-year-old El Monte resident. His DNA was a match collected from the body of Mary Lindgren and was the suspect in her murder. On August 6, 2020, members of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau served an arrest and search warrant for David Bernal in the city of El Monte and arrested him for the 1996 murder of Mary Lindgren.
Bernal is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday, August 7, 2020, in the Los Angeles Superior Court. His bail was set at $2 Million.
Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.
If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP on Google play or the Apple App Store or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org/