A man has been arrested for the murder of California bank teller Monica Leech nearly 26 years after her death.
Leech had just started his job at Western Financial Bank in Thousand Oaks. when they shot and killed her on April 28, 1997, Ventura County Sheriff Jim Fryhoff said during a news conference Tuesday. Two men disguised as construction workers broke into the bank around 10:15 a.m. and demanded money from the employees, KTLA reported.
The couple brought Leech and two others in the vault and ordered him to open the safe. They then forced her to her knees, handcuffed her and shot her at point-blank range. The 39-year-old Camarillo resident died at the scene.
“Monica was cooperative and did not pose a threat to the bank robbers, so investigators don’t understand why they had to shoot her,” Fryhoff said.
The robbers then fled the scene in a 1994 Ford Explorer, but crashed nearby. They managed to escape on foot, but the vehicle was recovered by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. The men made off with around $11,000.
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At the time, there was not enough evidence to identify or arrest any suspects and the case went cold, Fryhoff said.
In March 2021, authorities reopened the case, and advances in DNA testing allowed investigators to re-evaluate some evidence. They were eventually able to link the murder to Kevin Ray James, who was arrested in San Bernardino on March 9.
Authorities said Tuesday that he was charged with first-degree murder in the commission of robbery and use of a firearm in the commission of the crime. He is currently being held in the Ventura County Jail.
Authorities are still looking for the second suspect in the case.
“We want the public’s help in bringing the second perpetrator to justice,” District Attorney Erik Nasarenko said.
A $30,000 reward offered by the FBI and the City of Thousand Oaks is still available for information leading police to the second suspect in the case, Fryhoff said.
with cable news services