Mendocino Cold Case Heats Up: Bodies of Two Young Girls Found in 1979 Are Identified

Thirty-six and a half years ago, the bodies of two teenagers were found off Hwy 20. From that day in July 1979 until just recently, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office has been struggling to identify them

Today, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office put on a press conference to reveal new developments in this, one of their most well-known, cold cases.  The two bodies, initially identified as a male and a female, are now known to be two teenage girls–Kerry Graham and Francine Trimble. The two were best friends and last seen December of 1978 in Forestville on their way to the Coddingtown Mall in Santa Rosa.

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Left to right: Kerry Graham and Francine Trimble 

On July 8, 1979 two tourists stopped alongside Hwy 20. The man went for a walk and discovered the remains of the two teenagers. Law enforcement came to the area and recovered what were mostly bones at this time.

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Law enforcement in 1979 near the scene of where Kerry and Francine’s bodies were dumped.

A single bird earring belonged to Kerry Graham was found at the scene.

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Forensic work was done and for some reason the body of Francine Trimble was identified as that of a male. An artist rendered drawings of the two teenagers below with Francine drawn as a male.

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Forensic artist’s face composite of Kerry Graham and Francine Trimble.

More recently, investigative work with DNA and other techniques revealed the identities of the two girls. However, the cause of their death has not yet been discovered. And law enforcement is asking for the public’s assistance. If you have any information about what happened to the two girls, the tip line is (707) 234-2100.

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56 comments

  • i remember that case ,was working in ukiah at the time and happened just before i moved here to clearlake
    parents need closure

  • That is close to where the man, Richard Allan Davis, killed that young girl who gave birth to Megan’s Law, the time period fits , could be the same.

    • Agreed, Mendo should examine Davis file for any link to this heinous crime…only other would be the NYC creep Durst, too early for him?

      • Megan’s Law was named for Megan Kanka in New Jersey. A pedophile neighbor took her, assaulted her, and killed her.

      • Megans Law started in New Jersey after a pedophile neighbor of Megan Kanka abducted and killed her.

      • There are many more. Let’s keep throwing out the names. The right people may be reading this site. The right people may be of this generation and not know some of these historical names. Keep putting them out there.

    • No. Richard Allen Davis was the one who abducted and killed Polly Klaas. Her body was dug up just off Hwy 101 on the south end of Cloverdale, and it gave rise to the Three Strikes law… and it was quite a bit later… though, still, could have been Davis earlier in his career, I guess… if he wasn’t in jail back then, that is.

      • that is correct nines
        when they found polly i was working in sonoma county at that time and were rebuilding telephone lines and poles all around cloverdale new freeway bypass .

    • Megan Kanka was murdered in 1994 in New Jersey. Her parents advocated for the creation of a sex offenders’ registry … Megan’s Law became the informal name for the legislation initiatives.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Megan_Kanka

    • Megan’s law was named after Megan Kanka, from Hamilton Township, NJ. That’s where she was killed, not in California.

    • I hope they listen to you. Any lead is good.

    • You’re wrong on all three counts, tugboat.

    • Richard Allen Davis-Polly Klaas

    • Megan’s Law was named for Megan Kanka. She was from Mercer Co NJ. A man named Jessie. Timmendaquas(maybe misspelled) Killed her.

  • What about Robert Durst as a suspect? This is similar to the missing persons case of Karen Mitchell in Eureka, Ca. http://www.charleyproject.org/images/m/mitchell_karen3.jpg

  • I was rhinking Ward Weaver Jr. On death row in claifornia

  • i’ve compared the artist rendered drawings of the two girls and the actual photo’s and i’m amazed by those drawings. that was some great forensic work.

    i wonder how the loved ones of Kerry and Francine did not see familiarity, or why law enforcement did not see that the missing girls were Kerry and Francine.

    so glad it’s all come together.
    peace to the loved ones.

    • I, too, am impressed with the forensic drawings. I think the family was thrown off by believing one of them was a male. It wasn’t until DNA showed both were females. It is good news the families now have them to bring home.

    • Did you miss the part about the HUGE forensic error? (I know you didn’t, being facetious). Female skeletal features are different than male, and any “forensic scientist” will tell you they can tell the difference easily, ESPECIALLY when they’re on the witness stand. The forensics here completely blew it by hypothesizing a boy and girl ran away together (it appears). What does that tell you about forensic testimony in Court? Over 30 years to correct the error? How about convictions based on that kind of testimony?

    • Even back then, examination of pelvic bones etc. should have suggested female. Teletypes should have connected agencies enough to suggest a phone call be made from one to another. Lack of communication in this area has lead to successful careers for serial killers and rapists for years. California has definitely had its share of both. With the Earring and I imagine, clothing remnants, I don’t see why a connection was not made. I hate to Monday morning QB, but I just don’t see it.

      • gail scozzafava pierce

        my thoughts, exactly, cassy collins…this story deserves monday morning quarter backing…communication was lacking, for sure…i personally knew francine’s mom, she was my cousin’s girlfriend and she died not knowing what had happened to her daughter…so sad and seemingly unnecessary

  • Davis was active during this timeframe. He was committing crimes in the early 1970’s.

  • Seven months after they disappeared, their bodies were found in the next county, and just now identified? Somebody dropped the ball.

    The sketches came amazingly close to their images in photos. That advance and other new technology SHOULD help prevent such a sad, long wait from happening again. But what went wrong? Why would the Mendocino authorities not consider the girls who went missing 7 months earlier in the next county? Hopefully it was not just they were fixated on the bodies being a “boy” and a girl. You would think they would consider the girl to possibly be one of those from the next county. So sorry their families and friends had to wait so very long for this news.

    • I’m guessing it was indeed the fact that one was supposed to be a boy. One of the downfalls of that rigid identification people were so attached to… people were one and only one of two genders… i think folks just thought, A boy and a girl. NOT the girl and girl we’re looking for. Not even considered. Next!
      With hindsight, of course, we wonder how the heck they could have been so blind.

    • Totally agree. This makes me mad.

  • I wonder if they showed a picture of the earring back then? I am sure her parents would have recognized it. Were their bodies found close to where they went missing? How awful to have been waiting so many years for any kind of answer.

  • What about this guy:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_Alcala
    He photographed many girls that have gone missing. Here is a link to some of the photos. Timeline fits.
    http://www.vice.com/read/the-haunting-photography-of-a-serial-killer
    I hope there is closure for their loved ones. They have and will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  • I’m baffled. The article says ” From that day in July 1979 until just recently, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office has been struggling to identify them.” But they were from just over the county line in Sonoma! And the drawing looks very much like the photograph of the missing girl! And the earring was found with the body! What’s up? I’d like an explanation of why it took this very long time for identification. This boggles the mind.

    • I don’t know. One explanation is that it was many years ago when computers, dna and social media did not exist. But, today, it does seem hard to understand that neighboring counties couldn’t connect the two incidents.

  • Perhaps the parents had something to do with their disappearance…or maybe they were just in denial..

    • jennifer- ouch! No need to go get dark like that. I’d like to accept Kym’s response but I’m still blown away. They did have the telephone and paper and pens and files. And the mail to transmit information. I’d love a decent explanation from somebody in law enforcement. This seems like …well, major failure and/or incompetence. But perhaps there’s something I don’t know that could explain it. To let children’s bodies go unidentified for this long while a murderer possibly roams free? I would expect this kind of crime to be a priority for the sheriff! So I believe we are all due an explanation.

      • Back in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s , Sheriff depts, State Police and local police did not share information with other counties or states. Back then no one ever thought that people would travel outside of their comfort zones to commit crimes. Only if family member mentioned it to other areas was it shared. It was just the way it was done.

        • Of course they did. It wasn’t as convenient as it is today, but they did. I have many sources of documentation via police departments that show this. Mine are primarily the 60’s, but I have some from the 40’s and 50’s as well. They actually used typewriters and the U.S. mail.

        • NCIC teletypes 1967. Even if civilians didn’t know, law enforcement knew. They at least knew SERIAL killers travelled. The sixties and seventies were rife with these murders. Hitchhikers and those walking along roadways were the easiest targets. I can’t agree with the excuses.

    • Oh yeah, I’m sure two sets of parents got together and killed the kids. Are you kidding me? Jennifer

  • This is why we now have http://namus.gov/ which is the national missing persons database. Now we just need to require medical examiners and law enforcement to use it. It consists of 2 databases, actually 3 but the third is identified unclaimed bodies, the other two are unidentified persons and the other is for missing persons. Anyone can use it. Many cases are being solved because of it. Jurisdictional pettiness has caused much heartache and will eventually be stopped by proper reporting to the public.

  • First off law enforcement didn’t have the capabilities then that they do now. It’s very very common from the 80’s and back, to have someone be missing and then in another town or county just over alone the bodies are found. People didn’t look for similarities like they do now, with all the media exposure. The sketches came very close even the male pic , the face is still very similar to hers. The easiest way to tell a male from a female are the bones in the pelvis, without those and no DNA testing the mistake could be made. Now we have DNA testing that’s right on the money. Even now though a lot of law enforcement don’t have NamUs, and that hinders the search . Every police , investigators, FBI should be on this site and apart of this sight

  • Robert Durst maybe,he just plead guilty to murdering his friend today,Richard Allen Possibly may never know for sure,so glad they found out who they are for the family’s .May you rest in peace

    • Robert is definitely a possible suspect he is in the news again today MSN has a story on him for a 2000 murder of his neighbor I don’t know if he owned a home in Trinidad then.

  • River runs through it

    http://articles.latimes.com/1989-04-20/news/mn-2291_1_police-sergeant-groundskeeper-jennifer-moore

    This is a link to an article about Jennifer Moore who was murdered in 89 in my town. I went to her memorial when I was 12. He was caught but he could have been doing this for years, so many girls went missing in that decade all around the same age. So sad. God bless

    • I HOPE law enforcement does EVERYTHING in their power now to try and make connections. With a little luck, it will be someone already in custody. Keep working it. Make use of todays sharing sites. Make the connections. Lets make up for lost time.

    • That’s more than selnebsi! That’s a great post!

  • Robert Durst did not do this kind of serial killing. He wasn’t a sexual predator; he killed persons who annoyed or angered him. Two different kinds of pathology.

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