Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Clairemont Killer

A Match

Cellmark Diagnostic Aerial View
Cellmark Diagnostic Aerial View

Prince's biological samples were sent to Cellmark Diagnostic, a DNA analysis center in Maryland. Along with them went samples and items from some of the crime scenes. Three weeks later, the police learned that there was a match between Prince and the semen samples from the Weinhold rape/murder. It was time to make an arrest.

But when officers went to Prince's last known address, which turned out to be next door to building where the fourth victim was killed, they learned he was gone. Nevertheless, they searched the apartment, turning up an opal ring that matched the description of the one removed from Holly Tarr when she was stabbed. They learned that only 63 such rings had been manufactured and none had been distributed in California. That was good evidence against Prince. They got a tip on where he'd gone and alerted the police in that jurisdiction.

Prince was up to his usual tricks, according to the Union-Tribune. He'd just been arrested on March 1 for a burglary — he allegedly took money from a cash register at a dance club — and had been released on bond. Three hours later, the Birmingham police learned about San Diego's interest in him. They contacted Prince's bondsman to find out where he was. They then alerted Prince to turn himself in. Surprisingly, he came in, accompanied by his parents. They gave statements to reporters that his cooperation was clear evidence that he was innocent.

He was detained for extradition to California. At this time, the police had only linked five murders to him. A background check indicated that he had lived at the Buena Vista garden apartments during the times of those murders and that was dating a woman who lived near Universal City at the times of those two murders. Shoes that Prince owned matched several of the footprint impressions found at the scenes. Then searches turned up another item that had belonged to a victim: a unique ring that matched the one missing from Elissa Keller. She was added to the victim list.

However, DNA evidence was lacking in some of the cases, so a linkage analysis was in order. Several participants on the task force met with profilers at Quantico and they went over the evidence in all six cases. They were clear on the Weinhold case, because semen matched Prince, but if the prosecutor could prove the "special circumstance" of six murders, getting the death penalty for this ruthless killer would be much easier. In fact, the FBI had been involved quite early in this case analysis.

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FBI Logo

 

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