Police order new DNA tests in teen's 1978 murder at Torrey Pines - San Diego, California Talk Radio Station - 760 KFMB AM - 760kfmb

Detectives order new DNA tests in teen's 1978 murder at Torrey Pines

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Barbara Nantais, 15, was murdered in 1978 at Torrey Pines beach Barbara Nantais, 15, was murdered in 1978 at Torrey Pines beach
Claire Hough, 14, was murdered in 1984 at Torrey Pines beach Claire Hough, 14, was murdered in 1984 at Torrey Pines beach

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) -- The San Diego police cold case homicide team has ordered new DNA testing on evidence from the murder of a teenage girl at Torrey Pines beach nearly 35 years ago.

The last time DNA testing was done on evidence from the case was in 2006, according to Lt. Ernie Herbert with SDPD homicide.

"We have put in requests on evidence," said Lt. Herbert. "We are sending through our lab requests in a very methodical way to see if there is anything new."

On August 13, 1978, the body of Barbara Nantais, 15, was found naked, beaten, and strangled near lifeguard tower seven at the north end of Torrey Pines State Beach.

The lone survivor of the attack – and then boyfriend of the victim – told News 8 he is hoping for a break in the case.

Jim Alt was age 17 when he decided to camp out with Nantais in sleeping bags on the beach.

Alt, now age 52, still has a titanium plate in his head from the brutal attack, which damaged his brain.

"What was used from that fire pit was a rock and a log to bash my head in," said Alt. "I remember waking up cold and wet. I couldn't see."

Nantais was discovered spread eagle on the sand.  The killer had cut into the circumference of her nipple with a knife, according to the autopsy report.

News 8 video from 1978 showed crime scene investigators collecting evidence, including two sleeping bags.

"We had two sleeping bags, and I had zipped them both together," recalled Alt.

Last month, SDPD homicide Sgt. Frank Hoerman sent the following email to Alt, responding to an inquiry by Alt:

Thank you for your inquiry regarding the status of the investigation. The case continues to be reviewed and additional interviews and laboratory analysis has been conducted.

Do you recall who the sleeping bags used during your trip to San Diego belonged to and who may have used them (Other than Barbara and yourself) during and prior to your trip?

"I am hopeful that they do find something and they continue to run this on a daily basis through the DNA banks," said Alt.

Police also are investigating the unsolved murder of another teenage girl on the same beach six years after the death of Nantais.

The two cases may or may not be linked; but in 1984, Claire Hough, 14, was also found strangled at Torrey Pines beach. This time, the victim's breast had been completely amputated.

Additionally, at both crime scenes, the girls were found with sand in their mouths.

Over the past three decades, Alt has become frustrated with the progress of the police investigation.

"Every year, the time just ticks and ticks and ticks and nothing changes," Alt said.

Alt has a message for the killer, if he or she is still alive.

"You better hope that they catch you before I do," he said.

Alt and the Nantais family have asked that case information be released to a non-profit team of forensic investigators in Philadelphia, called the Vidocq Society.

Lt. Herbert said SDPD recently has been in contact with the well respected, crime-solving group.

"We have used them in the past," said Herbert. "And, I am very supportive of it because they have a ton of people from disciplines related to solving cases that could be of help."

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