Monday, September 14, 2015

Riverside man sentenced for 1986 cold case murder

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Larry Hite, 59, of Riverside was sentenced today to state prison for the 1986 murder of Nancy Klinger.

San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Jefferson Powell sentenced Hite to 25 years to life in prison and ordered him to pay $10,000 in restitution to the Victim-Witness Assistance Program.

In July 2015, a jury found Hite (pictured left) guilty of killing Klinger. This case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Denise Yoakum, who is assigned to the Cold Case Unit—a collaborative team consisting of two San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorneys and two San Bernardino County Sheriff’s detectives.

“Thanks to the hard work of our Cold Case Unit and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, we were able to solve this case and bring the family some sense of closure after all these years,” District Attorney Mike Ramos said. “As for Nancy, the victim in this case, we were able to obtain the only thing we could, justice.”

Statement of FactsIt was Aug. 29, 1986, and 28-year-old Nancy Klinger left her three children with a babysitter so she could meet up with Larry Hite—a man she had met while tending bar in Riverside.

According to Deputy District Attorney Yoakum, Hite had told Klinger that he worked as an undercover investigator for the Sheriff’s Department.

“He said he was going to bust a black market baby ring and she could assist him by posing as his wife undercover,” Yoakum said. “He promised her she would get paid for the job. He had also identified himself as an undercover officer to others, even showing a badge.”

That night, after dropping her children off, Klinger (pictured right) never returned.

Her skeletal remains—which were identified through dental records dating back to 1986—were found nearly two years later in a dirt field in a remote area of East Highland.

According to Deputy District Attorney Denise Yoakum, when investigators recovered the victim’s body in 1988, they were unable to determine a definitive cause of death due to decomposition.

During the initial investigation, detectives focused on Hite as a potential suspect but were unable to link him to Klinger’s death. Hite eventually relocated to Arizona, where he was convicted for assaulting two other women. Following his release from an Arizona prison, Hite relocated to Riverside.

Members of the Cold Case Unit reopened the case in 2009 and began examining the evidence and conducting follow-up interviews with Larry Hite. Eventually, they were able to gain a confession from Hite and link him to the murder of Nancy Klinger.

“For every unsolved murder there is a victim without justice and killer amongst us,” Deputy District Attorney Denise Yoakum said. “Today Nancy finally gets her justice and the defendant will no longer walk amongst us.”

Victim Impact Statement

Prior to sentencing, Deputy District Attorney Yoakum read the following Victim Impact Statement on behalf of Nancy’s son, Douglas McGraw, who did not attend the sentencing.

“I can't explain how hard it was for me and my sister to sit through the trial. Being in the same courtroom listening to all the things my mom went through before he murdered her, hurts me. During the trial I saw him smile, laugh and joke while I sat quietly there listening about the last moments of my mom's life and how her blood was on his clothes. He showed no remorse, he isn't sorry for murdering her.

“It scares me to know that he could go free one day. It would be unimaginable for another family to have to sit in a courtroom and feel the pain we feel. He belongs behind bars for the rest of his life and maybe the rest of us can sleep at night knowing he is in a place where he can't harm any other women and no one else's life has to be ruined. I pray that you see he has no business on the street and belongs behind bars for the rest of his life and it is clear that he has done evil things too many times. Please your Honor do not let him ruin anyone else's life. He is a real life monster.”

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