Authorities in Georgia have found the perpetrator in the 1972 murder of nine-year-old Debbie Lynn Randall.
This week, the Cobb County District Attorney named William B. Rose as the suspected killer after more than fifty years of Debbie’s kidnapping, rape and brutal murder.
“I’ve learned over the years that it doesn’t do you any good to hate or hold grudges,” her brother Melvin said at a news conference Tuesday.
Melvin Randall is the only living family member who heard the news. Debbie’s mother died from leukemia in 2018, while her father died last year.
“I would like to say that I wish my mother was here but I know that now she is in heaven she knows that it is finally over and we just want to say that we thank you all for what you have done to make this day succeed,’ he said.
Debbie was walking home from a laundromat late at night on January 13, 1972, in Marietta, Georgia, when she was kidnapped and murdered. Fifty years later, police say they have solved her cold case
“I’ve learned over the years that it doesn’t do you any good to hate or hold grudges,” her brother Melvin said.
“After a while… I blamed myself for being her big brother, and I fought with it for a while, but then I realized there was nothing I could have done, and it just happened, and it wasn’t my fault .’ debt. I’m just grateful for the community.”
Debbie was walking home late at night on January 13, 1972, in Marietta, Georgia, when she was kidnapped.
At the time, 4,000 people began searching for her and her body was found 16 days later near an intersection of Windy Hill and Powers Ferry Road.
Two young locals said a dark pickup truck backed into a parking lot near Debbie’s home and sped away. The only thing left in the parking lot was detergent.
An autopsy showed that she died of strangulation. Although the case has baffled investigators for decades, crucial evidence, namely a hair and a piece of cloth with a floral pattern, from her body had been safely preserved.
This week, the Cobb County District Attorney named William B. Rose as the suspected killer after more than 50 years of Debbie’s kidnapping, rape and brutal murder.
An autopsy showed that she died of strangulation. Although the case has baffled investigators for decades, crucial pieces of evidence, namely a hair and a piece of cloth with a floral pattern, from her body have been kept safe.
Thanks to DNA research, the piece of fabric was sent a laboratory in 2015 which resulted in a profile of an unknown man.
Further DNA testing in 2023 revealed Rose, who was 24 years old at the time of the murder and lived in the same apartment complex.
Rose died by suicide two years after Debbie’s death.
Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Broady said at the same conference, “It may take some time, but with new technologies coming to market every day, we are going to do everything we can to solve our cold cases, to ensure that we bring people to justice.
“The answer we give today will not bring her back. We cannot exact justice from the perpetrator, but I know he must answer to a higher power.”
Ron Alter, a cold case investigator with the district attorney’s office said Rose had previously been arrested for alcohol-related incidents and may have committed suicide for fear of being caught by police at the time, even though he was not a suspect.
“As he drove by, I’m sure he saw her. I believe this was a crime of opportunity. He only saw her and kidnapped her,” Alter said.
The investigator confirmed that investigators used ancestry websites to find familial similarities to Rose from distant relatives and from there narrowed down their list of suspects.
The process is known as genetic genealogy and allows investigators to use the DNA of family members to help identify a suspect or the identity of a cold case victim. It was a process that became famous when it was used to catch the BTK killer in Kansas.
Morris Nix, a retired detective with the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office who worked on the case, told WXIA of modern technology: “Technology doesn’t get old, doesn’t retire, doesn’t get sick. And it doesn’t stop. Technology looked for William Rose and found him in the grave.”