(Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)
OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 2:21 PM – Saturday, March 11, 2023
A suspect has been arrested by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department for the 1997 murder of Monica Leech, a bank teller in Thousand Oaks, California.
Kevin Ray James, 55, was arrested for the bank robbery and murder after an investigation which involved the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Ventura County District Attorney Investigations Bureau, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
On April 28, 1997, two men who were dressed as construction workers held up Western Financial Bank in Thousand Oaks, California where Monica Leech worked as a teller. As the two robbers were handcuffing Leech, one of the men shot her in the back of the head. The 39-year-old teller died on the scene.
The two suspects then fled the scene in a 1994 Ford Explorer, however they crashed the vehicle nearby. Although the men successfully managed to flee on foot, the Sheriff’s Office had recovered the vehicle.
Shortly after the murder, the local community had raised $160,000 in reward money for whoever had information that would lead to the men’s arrest. Authorities had also recovered surveillance video from the scene, along with composite sketches from eye witnesses. However for over 25 years, no arrests were made.
Over the years investigators have used traces of DNA that were left on the handcuffs, along with other evidence from the scene to create DNA profiles for the suspects.
The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office did not comment on the arrest or what evidence led them to James. Officials said that a news conference will be held on March 14th where they will release more details about their investigation and arrest.
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