A suspect in the fatal shooting of a teller during a 1997 bank robbery in Thousand Oaks has been arrested, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday.
The suspect was identified as Kevin Ray James, 55, of San Bernardino.
Little information about the arrest was released Friday and officials arranged a news conference on the case Tuesday in Thousand Oaks.
The case has haunted police and the family of Monica Lynne Leech, 39, who was shot to death in the Western Financial Bank robbery.
On the morning of April 28, 1997, two masked men dressed in long jackets and yellow hard hats entered the bank on Thousand Oaks Boulevard. The men berated bank employees, including Leech, forced them into a small room and handcuffed them.
Leech was shot in the back of the head, execution style.
Why Leech was shot so violently has puzzled investigators and others who were present at the robbery.
“Why Monica? That’s one of the things that’s so hard to deal with. Why the hell did they do that? ”, former bank manager DeeDee Smith told The Times in 1998, a year after the incident. “It was the violence, just the sheer violence.”
The Sheriff’s Office said in 2021 that Leech had obeyed the suspects’ orders and had not resisted.
After the shooting, the suspects fled the scene in a white 1994 Ford Explorer with around $9,000.
In 2021, the Sheriff’s Office said that new DNA evidence and technology “reinforced optimism that a suspect will be located, arrested and prosecuted.”