Murder suspect dies before getting arrested for crime 30 years ago

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A one-time San Diego police criminalist who died in an apparent suicide in the East County highlands this week was due to be arrested on suspicion of taking part in the gruesome murder of a teenage girl 30 years ago, authorities reported Thursday.

Kevin Charles Brown, 62, was found dead at Cuyamaca State Park on Tuesday afternoon. Brown evidently had killed himself, SDPD Lt. Paul Rorrison said, declining to disclose what led to that conclusion.

In November 2012, cold-case homicide detectives uncovered DNA evidence that allegedly linked Brown and a second man to the slaying of 14-year-old Claire Hough, who was found dead at Torrey Pines State Beach on Aug. 24, 1984.

The girl, who was visiting and staying with her grandparents at the time, had been beaten, strangled and stabbed, and one of her breasts had been cut off, according to San Diego County Crime Stoppers.

The other suspect, Ronald Clyde Tatro, died at age 67 in a boating accident in Tennessee the year before investigators got the break in the case.

Brown was civilian lab worker for the San Diego Police Department from 1982 until his retirement in 2002.

“The investigation confirmed Kevin Brown had no association with any of the evidence processed in this case; nor was he assigned to any part of the murder investigation,” Rorrison said.

Since the DNA evidence surfaced in the case two years ago, homicide detectives had “conducted extensive investigative follow-ups to bring forward a prosecutable case,” the lieutenant said.

At the time of Brown’s death, “preparations were being made” for his arrest, Rorrison said.

The murder occurred six years after a highly similar one at the same northern San Diego beach. In August 1978, 15-year-old Barbara Nantais was found slain with one of her breasts severed. Her boyfriend was nearby, suffering from severe head wounds that had left him semiconscious and with no memory of the attacks.

It was unclear if Brown and Tatro were considered suspects in the earlier murder as well.

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