DNA Under Victim’s Fingernails Solves 1991 Murder Case

The Seaside Police Department in Northern California announced on Monday that they had solved the brutal murder of a mother of three, whose burned body was discovered in January 1991, CBS News reported.

Vicki Johnson, 34, was murdered on January 3, 1991, in the city formerly known as East Monterey, now Seaside. Her body was discovered near a playground in the Sabado Park neighborhood. She had been strangled and suffocated before being set on fire.

Seaside Police said in a statement posted on Facebook that Johnson “suffered a violent death” that “shocked” the community.

In a press release on Monday, the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office said that without any suspects or witnesses to the crime, Johnson’s murder “went unsolved” for over 32 years. But with the help of DNA, police identified her killer as Frank Lewis McClure.

Seaside Police credit Johnson for helping to provide them with the evidence needed to identify her killer.

According to the police, Johnson “put up an incredible physical battle” with her assailant “until the last moments of her life,” leaving a “significant” amount of DNA beneath Johnson’s fingernails. 

According to the Sacramento Bee, when the police and district attorney’s office reopened the case in 2021, the evidence, including the biological material found beneath her fingernails, was sent for DNA testing.

The DNA under Johnson’s nails got a hit on CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) matching it to Frank Lewis McClure who had previously been convicted of felony assault with a deadly weapon, prosecutors said.

No arrest will be made, however, as McClure died in 2021.

According to prosecutors, McClure was 46 at the time of the murder and was never a suspect.

With the assailant already deceased, police said the motive in the murder is not clear and it is unknown what relationship McClure had with Johnson.