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Sacramento County solves its oldest cold case in killing of Nancy Bennallack

The identification of a suspect makes this the oldest homicide cold case to be solved in Sacramento history.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento County Sheriff's deputies identified the suspect in a more than 50-year-old slaying of a court reporter.

Richard John Davis, the suspect, died in November of 1997. Officials said he lived in the same apartment complex as Nancy Bennallack, the 28-year-old court reporter. 

In November of 2019, investigators began their Forensic Genetic Genealogy investigation after previous failed attempts at linking DNA from the crime scene to a suspect. 

The homicide is the oldest case solved in Sacramento County.

A press conference was held that Undersheriff Jim Barnes, Ret. Homicide Det. Micki Links, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert and representatives of the victim’s family attended. 

Background

Nancy Bennallack, a 28-year-old Sacramento court reporter who was engaged to Chief Public Defender Farris Salamy, was found stabbed to death in her apartment on Oct. 26, 1970. A friend of the victim and the apartment manager found Bennallack dead in her bedroom after she didn’t go to work that morning.

Bennallack had dinner with her fiancé the night before her death, according to Micki Links, a retired sergeant with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office. Links helped the Homicide Cold Case Team on this case. 

Links said Bennallack and Salamy spent the night together in her apartment before Salamy left before midnight. 

Sometime between 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 and the early morning hours of Oct. 26, the suspect made entry into the victim’s apartment by climbing up the second-story balcony and through the open slider. The suspect stabbed the victim over 30 times and nearly decapitated her. 

When investigators arrived and began processing the crime scene, they located a blood trail which began on the balcony, continued to the sidewalk below, around the apartment complex buildings, ending at the parking lot. The investigators determined the suspect cut himself during the murder and possibly left the scene in a vehicle.

In 2004, a forensic DNA profile was developed from the blood drops found at the scene. The unknown male profile was uploaded to the state and national CODIS database but there was no match.

In 2019, the team started a Forensic Genetic Genealogy investigation.

On July 21, 2022, the suspect was identified as Richard John Davis, a Sacramento resident who died in Sacramento County November 2, 1997. 

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